For those who believe things are so much different now than in the past, there’s this from the Commercial Holiday Department: In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date for Thanksgiving up a week so that merchants could have a longer shopping season.
Folks were so upset, one of FDR’s Republican rivals compared him to Hitler because of the change.
And you thought comparing presidents to the world’s worst human being was a new idea.
Some of the most angry folks were the football coaches, who had already scheduled football games for the last Thursday of the month. T
So why all the fuss? First, it messed up people’s calendars. Football games would have had to be rescheduled, and people weren’t too happy about that. Football was already a Thanksgiving pastime at this point.
So no, the whole football thing isn’t new, either.
“Franksgiving,” as it was called, was an abject failure and FDR eventually changed the date to the fourth Thursday of November. Of course, it was only called a failure because it didn’t generate any significant change in retail sales. If money had been made, you can be assured that we would have eaten turkey last week.
So if you have the urge to opine about the materialistic tendency of modern culture, remember that we Americans have a long, long history of commercialism.
If you are ready to say that no president has been hated as much as Mr. Obama, well just remember that his lowest approval ratings are not even close to those of Harry Truman, who bottomed out at just 22 percent in February 1952.
If you think it is a disgrace that football is so tied to the holiday, remember that the “American Intercollegiate Football Association held its first championship game on Thanksgiving Day, 1876.”
And on Thursday, give thanks for history … because it provides context for the present and keeps us from jumping off the cliff.