What About Thanksgiving?

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Consultant Tips” series, written by Charese Fruge on November 3, 2020 

Halloween has come and gone, and the entire country is going “Christmas Crazy” already. Especially in the radio business. The number of stations which have already flipped to the Christmas format blew up over the weekend. Every year it happens earlier and earlier. I get it, especially this year, since everyone is looking for a mental break and relief from the pandemic and everything else that is going on in 2020. I’m ready to put up my Christmas tree and start making Oreo Balls and Gingerbread Houses. But are we overlooking one of the most important Holidays in existence, just so we can get to Christmas, because once it comes and goes, the year will finally be over? Are we overlooking Thanksgiving, a day we stop everything to acknowledge our blessings over the past year and what we are thankful for?

Yes, I know, 2020 was AWEFUL, and you know it’s bad when they have officially cancelled the traditional “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” promising something “virtual and unique” instead. But we still have a lot to be thankful for. If you are reading this, we know you have survived so far. But despite the doom and gloom of the year, we still have our families, friends, pets, freedom, health (hopefully), and tomorrow to appreciate. That’s why it’s important to look for the little things that will remind us of that so we can escape the anxiety and pressure of real life for a minute. I know everyone is ready for the year to be over, but remember, you still have two months left to get through.

I don’t think I would be thinking this way and trying to figure out how I can make this Thanksgiving Day special had it not been for a friend of mine who sent me the “Thanksgiving Song” by Ben Rector. I’m not usually a big Holiday song person. I, like most, prefer the Brenda Lee’s and Mariah Carey’s of the Christmas world, but I’m a big Ben Rector fan so I took a listen to it and watched the video. It was so impressive, and so nostalgic, it took me back to when I was a child, celebrating a big Thanksgiving dinner with my five brothers and sisters, mom and dad, grandma, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, dogs, cats and ducks. Remember having to sit at the kids table, feeding the dog green beans under the table so you didn’t have to eat them, taking long walks down the driveway to get rid of the ridiculously full feeling you had, and doing everything you could to stay away from that creepy uncle or cousin you had? It all came rushing back to me as I watched the video for this song.

I sent the song to my mom and a few friends of mine and they all loved it. So much so that the conversation became, “Is this the new Thanksgiving song?” No, it’s not silly comedy like Adam Sandler’s, but it’s perfect for everything we are going through right now. As it turns out, we aren’t the only ones who were thinking this. Just this morning, Craig Melvin from NBC’s “Today” said the same thing on air, then posted about it in a Tweet. “Earlier on @3rdHourToday I suggested Thanksgiving needed a theme song.

Turns out @Benrector did it, and he did it very well.”

I was so moved by the song that I reached out to Ben to ask him what inspired him to write “The Thanksgiving Song.” “I realized that I’d never heard Thanksgiving music, which was odd considering (in America) it’s more universal than Christmas, and Christmas is an entire genre of music!” he told me. “I decided to try to write something that tapped into that shared experience and nostalgia, and I hope it ends up being a small part of people’s celebrations going forward.”

And while Ben’s childhood memories of Thanksgiving are reflected in the song, like many, this year will be different. “Honestly, things are changing a lot this year, as my wife and I just had twins (we already have a three-year-old daughter). This will be the first holiday season where we stay put in Nashville, so we’ll need to come up with some traditions of our own!” Not a bad idea for all of us. Ben then added, “I hope the song feels familiar to fans, like something they’ve listened to for a long time, and I hope it brings up good memories of their own traditions, especially this year when people won’t get to be together quite as much as other years before.”

The song was originally released as a “lifestyle piece” to People.com. It blew up right away, so much so that it sold out of its first and only order of vinyl copies in two days. And while I think this is perfect for Christmas stations for the month of November, I also think it’s great for morning shows and full of great content ideas. Why not set your own new traditions? You really need to hear the song and see the video as well. Not only is it a great song, but the video will take you back to your childhood memories and make you long for the days when life was much simpler.

More importantly, it will remind you that as crazy as things are right now, we have so much to be thankful for. In the words of American author, Melody Beattie, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”