Everything about National Christmas Kick-off Day is symbolically linked to the holiday ahead. The meager or notoriously absent decorations around Kick-off serve to exaggerate the level of gaudiness soon to come. After all, who can claim to be in the spirit of Giftmas without a bi-colored spot light shining off of the roof burning a reindeer silhouette into the sky? Or a front lawn choked with inflatable snowmen? And don't forget the stuffed bobbles kept indoors, elves and other animals grinning like lobotomized children. "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."
Then of course there's the feast, and feast implies more than just a meal. A meal is merely the consumption of food, so it might pass in silence, while a feast suggests the presence of others with whom one is required to converse, perhaps even festively. As such, Kick-off Day is a chance to air grievances for which forgiveness can be bribed come Giftmas. Gorging, wine free flowing, soon the whole family is willing to be too honest. God forbid this might result at a time after the reception of presents. Newly beloved things might have to be returned. Better to get it all out ahead of time with plenty of days in-between to let the rage cool; with the horror of Kick-off Day fights still looming in mind, family members are more likely to hold their tongues if not their wine.
Plus, National Christmas Kick-off Day is a time to warm up the, now, obligatory contrarian impulse. For instance, it's time to claim Kick-off used to be its own stand alone holiday, a fact anyone born after 1983 scoffs at.
Yes, Kick-off Day has not always been well regarded, but its link to Giftmas is an incontrovertible fact. Why else does the Macy's National Christmas Kick-off Day Parade feature a float dedicated to Santa? (Which brings to mind the classic Giftmas film A Miracle on 34th Street -- the movie begins during the aforementioned parade.) Cynics might argue that it's a shallow ploy to induce people to think about shopping for presents, and that the connecting of the two holidays somehow has to do with the idea that if people are thinking of Giftmas during potentially good times with family they might be inspired to purchase more to prove their love come Xmas. However, what other reason could there be for this occasion?
According to those who must show off their first semester of college history, "Thanksgiving" is a holiday linked to 1621 when a group of religious fanatics gave thanks for surviving in a strange new world. They apparently broke bread with the Wampanoag tribe who had helped the so-called Pilgrims learn to catch eel, grow corn, and even given them food from their own stores. (Good thing God sent the Natives or else the Pilgrims might have died.) It sounds nice, like a classic affirmation of the American ideal: a group of immigrants comes to an unfamiliar land where the indigenous population welcomes them with open arms, gladly helps them adapt to their new environment, and the two groups eventually come together as friends. It happens every day in the USA. Just ask a Mexican.
Perhaps this is why people point to this one occasion when selling the idea of "Thanksgiving." After all, occasions for giving thanks occurred in the Americas long before anyone arrived at Plymouth. Spanish colonists going back to the 16th century routinely held thanksgivings. The Virginia Commonwealth celebrated thanksgiving in 1607; and the Berkley Plantation in Virginia is considered by some to be the location of the first "official" Thanksgiving, held December 4th 1619. The Wampanoag even held festivals that could be called thanksgiving celebrations, which some have dismissed as harvest festivals (though what's the difference?).
So why would America choose one point in time to define a tradition rather than keeping the concept broad and thereby applicable to the notion of giving thanks instead of an event?
Now is the chance to bring up the genocidal rape filled land grab which will transmogrify by Xmas into how Christianity supplanted older traditions, amalgamating various customs into the celebration of a demigod's birth -- what we know as Christmas. A... blah, blah, blah designed solely to exhibit one's wealth of grim historical knowledge, all the while ignoring the most salient point: history is malleable.
America is made of myths. And though some may die off their legacy somehow persists. Most people think Betsy Ross invented the American Flag. Never mind her grandson's excellent job of selling the idea. Or that Paul Revere alone warned the colonies... while the memory of men like Israel Bissel, who rode over 300 miles to Revere's 15, vanishes. Hell, Columbus apparently sailed to prove the Earth is round... despite the fact Hellenic philosophers had already concluded the Earth to be spherical, the globe then being invented in 150 BCE by Crates of Mallus, and further perfected into the Erdapfel by Martin Behaim in 1492. So it shouldn't shock anyone that a myth inspires our sense of a season.
What people tend to forget is that what something is now is not what it will always be. In the past there may have been a standalone holiday known as Thanksgiving, Turkey Day, Greedy European Asshole's Celebrating the Rape of the Land Day -- the nomenclature all depends on who you ask. The point is that perspective reshapes reality, and for the time being we now live in the era of National Christmas Kick-off Day. The day is what you make it.