Let’s Make It Happen: Saving Thanksgiving From the Grinch

By Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of non-fiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.
November 16, 2021 Updated: November 16, 2021

Dr. Seuss wrote “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” the story of a sour, solitary creature who despises the joy that Christmas brings to others.

This year, the Grinch has widened his ambitions and is taking aim at Thanksgiving.

Our country is in a mess. Gas prices are soaring. The cost of groceries, including turkeys, is rising every month. In the middle of a shortage of hospital workers, vaccine mandates are driving health care professionals away from their jobs. Our southern border is a disaster, some of our schools are failing to educate students, and our supply chain is in chaos, leading to shortages of goods and higher prices for such things as lumber and cars.

Good news seems as rare as snow in August.

Even worse, many Americans are frayed in spirit, afraid the country, like some of its politicians, is going off the deep end, diving like lunatic lemmings into a swimming pool without water. As we plug along, keeping our fingers crossed in hopes of better days, some may wonder what they have to be thankful for and how to celebrate in such dour times.

How can we stop the Grinch from stealing Thanksgiving?

Here is my answer in a word: ferocity.

Passion and Gratitude

If we’re going to deliver a knockout punch to the Grinch, we must celebrate Thanksgiving as fiercely and boldly as possible. We need to fill our dining rooms and kitchens not just with the scent of turkey, dressing, gravy, and pumpkin pies, but with love, happiness, and raucous laughter as well. On this special day, we need to kick to the curb the frightened and bitter mood that hangs like a cloud over our country, and shine some light on the darkness.

We can begin our resistance by recollecting what we have to be grateful for. For the time being, for example, we still live in a bastion of freedom. We can still buy gasoline and groceries. We retain our rights to worship as we please, speak our minds, and gather in peaceful protest.

On a more personal level, surely all of us can think of at least one thing for which we are grateful: our loved ones, our jobs, the fact that we have a roof over our heads, and a freezer full of food. I get up every morning and offer a brief prayer of gratitude for still being here, alive, and breathing on planet Earth.

Let’s take these thoughts of gratitude and make them a focal point on Nov. 25.

Bring a Smile and a Positive Attitude

“If you don’t have anything nice to say,” the old maxim goes, “don’t say anything at all.”

That bit of wisdom, which many of us heard from our mothers, may not be easy to put into practice on a day-to-day basis, but we can become intentional on Thanksgiving and abide by this injunction.

This is a day of gratitude and appreciation. It’s not the day to rail about President Biden, to sneer at your conservative uncle, to mock your niece for getting yet another tattoo, or to criticize your daughter-in-law for the behavior of her 4-year-old. If your sibling insists on jumping into politics, just grin and change the topic.

This is a great day for building family and friendships, not for argument and animosity. Leave the critic at the front door and look for the positives in the people around you.

Ways and Means

On Thanksgiving, families celebrate in all sorts of ways other than the meal. These activities can bond us with others and add even more festivity to the feast. Here are a few possibilities taken from my own clan, as well as some observed in other celebrations.

Card and board games can be a hit with young and old. My friend John, who will be spending Thanksgiving here along with my children and grandchildren, plays card games such as Spoons, Spit, and Go Fish with the grandkids, and you can generally hear the lot of them hooting with laughter and shouts for hours. That commotion warms the heart.

Charades is another great game for grownups and adolescents alike, particularly when you have a crown. Unleash that actor inside of you and have a blast.

Last year at our gathering, I introduced a new tradition: a family sing-along. I copied lyrics offline of such songs as “God Bless America,” “The National Anthem,” and even John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” and adults and kids belted them out. We were still in the deep throes of the Wuhan virus at that time, and my oldest son, beaming with pleasure, said our songfest made him feel good to be alive again.

Many children love to hear stories from the childhoods of their parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles. Consider gathering some of the kids around Grandma in the living room and letting them travel back in time to her youth.

Football games in the backyard, Thanksgiving scavenger hunts, a family walk around the neighborhood: All can brighten the day.

Spoken Thanks

Many families gather before the turkey fest to offer individual thanks, words of gratitude for some circumstance or person in their lives. Such a ceremony offers opportunities to know others better, affords moments of laughter—the smaller children with their thoughts provide the reason for much of that amusement—and serves as a reminder of blessings in our own lives we may have overlooked.

And if you’re alone on this day? Maybe you’re stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and the rest of the family has gathered at the farm in South Dakota? Grab the phone or turn on Zoom, and make contact.

This is also the perfect day to write an email or a note of appreciation to someone you treasure to express your gratitude that this person is a part of your life. That correspondence won’t arrive until after the holiday, but your kind words may bring them immense joy.

Let’s Join the Battle

The Grinch has held sway over America for far too long a time, sapping joy and pleasure from our lives. More and more people are now fighting back against this dismal state of affairs. In places such as Texas and Alabama, for example, tens of thousands of unmasked spectators are filling football stadiums and cheering on their teams. In many other localities, people are out and about, enjoying the beach, going to concerts, and throwing parties.

It’s up to us to save Thanksgiving, and ourselves, from the clutches of the Grinch.

Let’s make this Thanksgiving the best ever.

Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of non-fiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.