If Christmas is the time to worship and conduct "major giving," then Thanksgiving is the time to give thanks for little things. A smile, a touch on the arm, a visit, a telephone call. Even a thought.
While Christmas may be commercial, Thanksgiving, we can be thankful, has escaped commercialization, unless you consider the advertising push for turkeys and cranberries that makes newspapers swell like stuffing.
But, so far, there's been no pressure to give a "thankful" gift. And just that makes Thanksgiving different from Easter with its rabbits and finery and Valentine's Day with its frills, lace and chocolates and, of course, Christmas, with its red-green hustle bustle.
In recent years, however, astute observers of social mores have discovered Thanksgiving as a special time to connect with friends.
A printed letter from two of our favorite octogenarians just arrived. It was tenderly meant to alert us to the couple's holiday plans. To us, this pair--Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, president emeritus of Caltech, and his lovely wife, Arrola, the thoughtful, witty raconteur--rank among the most charming pillars.
One Minute at a Time
Their message reminded us that one should live each day and be thankful for a minute at a time. The happily wedded DuBridges advised us and other friends that they had sat on the sand at the South Shore of Boston last summer, being grateful, and thinking they would "chat" at Thanksgiving time.
They shared with us their pleasure in attending professional meetings, family reunions, birthdays, "a family wedding apiece," visiting old friends, better health . . .
They continued, "As the steps get steeper, the newsprint smaller and people seem to mutter most of the time, more than ever we cherish the present. We need to touch hearts with our family and friends at near and far distances, and to hear from you that 'all is well.' "
Occasionally, other wonderful "Christmas cards" and family pictures belatedly arrive at Thanksgiving (if they didn't arrive at Valentine's Day with hearts and kisses), examples of sentiment harried senders couldn't quite cram into the rushed mails of the Christmas season previous.
The timing lends individuality: a card (particularly if its accompanied with a photo) becomes unique and special. It gets the extra glance and the perusal lost in a busier season.
Haste of the Holidays
Thanksgiving messages also allow early birds to be first with Christmas holiday greetings and to advise friends discreetly of changed addresses and marital adjustments.
Such messages also alert recipient procrastinators to the haste of the holidays: One must get the card file updated and budget the necessary hours for holiday notes in order to allow minutes for the tree, the cookies and a carol or two.
A card sent at Thanksgiving has become a charming way for friends to say to other friends, "We're your friends. Don't forget us when you send greetings."
For, of course, no one wants to be forgotten. At Thanksgiving, receiving is as important as sending. To be remembered is invigorating, perhaps more so as one grows older and considers one's mortality or immortality.
To remember, ditto.
All is well, dear Arrola and Lee.