Thanksgiving at the Museum


I really love Christmas, along with all the cheer that comes with learning about how many other occasions the world has created to celebrate during the coldest, darkest part of the year. And I believe in waiting for Christmas gratification!

I don’t follow a religious calendar, but for tradition’s sake, my rule is: no Christmas until the Sunday after Thanksgiving! And no rushing to end Christmas before January 6.

There’s something sad to me about putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving (or even back in October), and then taking them all down in one fell swoop on or before New Year’s Day. It’s at this time of year that I have to live in the moment and focus on Thanksgiving and not rush ahead. Seeing others post this cartoon, I know I’m not alone in the sentiment.

I’ve had trouble finding museum events or exhibits that relate to Thanksgiving. Maybe the holiday just doesn’t lend itself well to museum programming; it’s celebrated at home, with family, around a table full of food. Museums typically observe the day by being closed. But in a world where museums provide cheer in forms ranging from model trains to gingerbread houses to caroling to light displays to ornament making workshops, surely some creative person can think of a way for visitors to go to a museum, some other day in November besides Thanksgiving, in order to learn more about or commemorate Thanksgiving.

The one example of Thanksgiving programming I found in the DC area is perhaps a bit unorthodox: a Cooking for Peace Vegetarian Thanksgiving event at the Meditation Museum in Silver Spring, Maryland. Unorthodox because, a) it’s a cooking class in a museum (not unheard of, but not terribly common, either), and b) it’s a Thanksgiving event that appeals to the desire not to eat turkey. This is a desire I share with only around 3.2% of US adults.

I am looking forward to the historic houses decorated in period Christmas finery, the poinsettias and Nativity scenes, the displays of evergreens, the sharing of December holiday traditions around the world. All in good time!

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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