We have a lot of songs that are suitable for Halloween: “Monster Mash,” “Purple People Eater,” “Season of the Witch,” anything from Rocky Horror and Little Shop of Horrors, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” and of course, “Thriller.” Those are just a few from off the top of my head. I stopped because I didn’t want to overburden my point.
And do we even need to mention the thousands of Christmas songs? Even if you decide to only do secular holiday music, there are still hundreds of choices.
But, Thanksgiving. . . hmm. . . “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant.” Yes, “Alice’s Restaurant.” It starts on Thanksgiving. I can pull out a few songs that are sacred: “All Good Gifts” from Godspell, “Give Thanks,” “We Gather Together,” “Come Ye Thankful People,” “Come.” I know that there are a few others; a quick search pulls up “Thanksgiving Song,” and “Thanksgiving Prayer.” But, there really aren’t that many.
It used to be that Thanksgiving was a big deal, with a full week off from school, decorations—the whole shebang. And the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade was the beginning of the Christmas season. Now, the schools in my area get 3 days off. Decorations are spare, and the Christmas season is starting earlier and earlier. There is a radio station that starts playing nothing but Christmas music on 1 November! I know people who put up their tree the same day that station starts up. Where is the space for Thanksgiving in the midst of all that?
I even feel the pressure. Years ago, I promised my older kids, who happen to be twins, that I would not put up the Christmas décor until after their birthday, which is 30 November. Even though they are adults and not living with me anymore, I still feel bound by that promise. But, I have students who come in looking for the Christmas stuff right after Thanksgiving. My compromise is to put the tree up right after Thanksgiving, but I wait to put the decorations on it until 1 December. The cats need time to adjust to the tree anyway.
Of course, just like Columbus Day is now becoming Indigenous Peoples’ Day, there is a movement to do away with Thanksgiving. Most of what we learned about it in school is just plain wrong. There probably was a cross-cultural harvest feast, but who was there and what was eaten are more than likely far different from what we were taught. There are some who are calling for a national Day of Atonement for what we Europeans did to the Native populations. While I can’t say that I blame them, I doubt that Thanksgiving is going anywhere anytime soon. Can’t you just hear the complaints about the “War on Thanksgiving?”
But, this still doesn’t address the dearth of Thanksgiving Day music. I’m looking for songs that revel in the food and the family fights. We are fortunate, in that in the immediate family, we are all on the same political spectrum, but I have friends for whom the day is fraught with peril.
What is your favorite Thanksgiving song? I will admit, I am torn between “All Good Gifts” from Godspelland “Alice’s Restaurant.” Let me know what songs make your mouth water in anticipation.
I’ll be posting roughly once a week with a new song. I’m trying to make the songs seasonal, but I can make exceptions. So, if there’s a song that you’d like some background on, or questions about what it means, let me know.
Thanks for reading! Until next time!