I had an interesting conversation this afternoon with a young man who was at my home for some maintenance work.

As he readied to leave, I thanked him and began to wish him Happy Thanksgiving and then added Merry Christmas and even Happy New Year!

He laughed as I said that time has moved almost too quickly to absorb – it’s virtually the end of the year, and the holidays blur together.

His reaction took me aback.

He shook his head and added that most people aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving; they just ignore it for the other holidays.

He said that we all have so much to be thankful for, but we just take it for granted and ignore the day.

I agreed with him wholeheartedly, and we talked about the blessings we have in this country and how, too often, we don’t acknowledge them.

After he left, I reflected on his comments and I admit, I was really surprised at his thoughts. He couldn’t have been more than 22 or 23, and judging by his looks and slight accent, he is not a “white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant.”

Whether he was born here or immigrated to this country makes no difference.

What struck me is that he has a better sense of the holiday we celebrate on Nov. 28 this year than most Americans.

Yes, the 28th is Thanksgiving Day, a day traditionally on which we thank God for his blessings – to us, our families and friends and our country.

We still have the day, but the “tradition of thanks” is pretty much gone.

Yes, students and working people will get a day off and, more than likely, take a long weekend! Why not? Any excuse for time off. Of course, government takes a holiday, too.

Television will do the obligatory “news” stories about turkey prices, supplies and even turkey farms. There will be recipes in print media and cooking shows will demonstrate ways to prepare the “feast” – even tofu turkeys for vegetarians.

You’ll hear the usual reports about crowded airports, the price of gasoline and how many people will be on the road.

And, of course, there’ll be hours and hours of football and people will eat and drink their fill, diets be damned.

But take a look at the stores and the ads. You may see the word “Thanksgiving” but not see anything about Pilgrims or the colonies or even the Indians who participated in the first feasts.

For all intents and purposes, Thanksgiving is just a day to eat and watch sports; a day that happens to fall between Halloween – which is not a national holiday – and Christmas, which is.

In a world where stores put out the Halloween merchandise in August, is it any surprise that the Christmas items – excuse me, holiday decorations – are on display before Thanksgiving?

The holidays are merged into one big shopping orgy.

The problem is, Halloween is a day people spend money on decorations and costumes and candy and all else.

Christmas is very important, not for its religious significance, but because if merchants don’t sell enough merchandise, their annual reports take a hit.

If you have any doubt that the meaning of Thanksgiving is just about gone, consider the many stores, which will be open on Thanksgiving Day with their so-called “Black Friday” sales.

It began with stores opening at midnight on the holiday, then it got earlier and earlier, with people lining up hours in advance to be first in line for some of the bargains.

Of course, leave it to broadcast media to hype that with cameras and microphones trolling the early shoppers: Why are you here?

Today, it appears that the only purpose of Thanksgiving is to be the first day of real Christmas shopping.

For all intents and purposes it’s not possible to celebrate these traditional holidays because popular culture has effectively eliminated the reason for them – thanking God for our blessings. They’ve been sacrificed to money and, as years pass, religion is ignored.

I just heard a woman on talk radio say Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday because “there’s no religion.”

Do ads say “Merry Christmas,” or can you find greeting cards saying “Merry Christmas”?

For the most part, no.

Many store clerks are instructed not to say “Merry Christmas.”

This elimination of religion from Christmas, and the elimination of thanking God on Thanksgiving, is the intent of progressives to remove all religion from our culture.

Why perpetuate a day of thanks when, in their view, there’s no one to thank. To them, it’s just “turkey day” or a day of twisted history to honor the Indians.

As I write this before Thanksgiving, I’ve already seen New Year’s Day celebration items on display, and I know from experience that before Christmas, Valentine’s Day items will be on display.

It’s worse every year and extends to all other holidays with religious bases – St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter; all involve Christian religious icons and celebrations.

Now we have Christmas trees becoming “holiday trees” and children not allowed to sing Christmas carols in their “holiday concerts.”

Remember Easter egg hunts? In my area, they have “egg hunts” and “egg rolls” but the topper for me was last year, when a local venue sponsored an “egg scramble.”

It’s ludicrous and sad and so dangerous.

A culture without the guiding hand of God, religion and morality is a culture on a wild, uncontrolled trip to disaster.

That’s us, unless common sense regains control.

We have so much for which to be thankful; it would be a sin to let it all drift away.

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