I’m baffled by this Reston tradition. (Jim Kirby/JIM KIRBY)

Poor Thanksgiving.

It’s not a holiday. It’s the day before Black Friday. It’s a day you have to spend with your family when you could be shopping. This year, at some retailers, it’s Black Thursday.

Poor Thanksgiving.

Even Halloween is more of a holiday, and they don’t even give you the day off work. Christmas is more than a holiday, swelling each year to more mammoth proportions, threatening to swallow Thanksgiving whole. Accustomed to battle from years of war being waged on it, Christmas has now moved from defense to offense and is laying siege to October. Thanksgiving has been mortally wounded, reduced to a shopping day. Veterans Day will be the next to fall. The Christmas commercial invasion begins even before Halloween. If I have to see those dancing Ritz crackers at least ninety-seven more times — well, I won’t be at all surprised.

We should have known Thanksgiving was doomed. It’s been given an impossible task. You are called to perform the Herculean feat of simultaneously feeling Thankful For The Joys Of Your Life and eating dinner with your extended family. Even the Pilgrims didn’t do that. Many of them hopped on board the Mayflower for the express purpose of avoiding dinner with Great-Aunt Prudence ever again.

They remembered how it went.

“Are Ye having Ye Grandchildren Yette?” Great Aunt Prudence would ask, for the eighty-ninth time. “Hast ye founde a suitable Help-Meet? I am not gettinge anye Younger, Ye know.”

Great-Uncle Geoffrey would insist on telling stories about the Spanish Armada and how much more expensive everything was when he was younger. Then he and the Pilgrims’ fathers would argue about whether King James was a good monarch or not.

“I didn’t vote for him! I didn’t vote for him!” the Pilgrims’ uncle would yell.

“Nobody voted for him,” the Pilgrims would sigh into their napkins.

“Well I didn’t!” This was the same uncle who always mailed the Pilgrims elaborate conspiracy letters with unflattering caricatures of King James that suggested he was secretly a Witch from Foreign Climes who was Uppe To Noe Goode.

People would start flinging food around. Several babies would start crying. Someone’s dog would start courting the Pilgrims’ leg, and Cousin Laurence would say, “Lette him alone, for Hee is a goode dogge who meaneth well.”

The Pilgrims flung down their trenchers and went out to sit in the garage and curse to themselves over their rapidly cooling potatoes. “That’s it,” they said, when their wives came to see if they were okay. “I’m going to the New World, where at leaste I will not have to sitte through another of these dinners.”

And now look how we celebrate their struggle. By forcing ourselves to endure just that.

If we wanted to be true to the spirit of Thanksgiving, we would all hop on dangerous boats and get as far away from our extended families as possible.

Besides, the concept of Thanksgiving seems antiquated. Give thanks? Be grateful? Be content with what you have? It’s like you want Apple to go bankrupt.

We’ve done everything within our power to make Thanksgiving unbearable. Relatives. Christmas music playing dimly in the background. Christmas commercials on the air. No gifts allowed. And all of this while UNBEATABLE BLACK FRIDAY DEALS are lurking just out of the corner of our vision.

No wonder it succumbed.

Still, it’s a shame. Thanksgiving is the final stand of the holidays that were about Eating Things rather than Buying Things. Now Black Friday seeps over into Black Thursday. Thanksgiving is overrun, trampled underfoot by the deal-hungry shoppers, mauling one another past recognition to the strains of “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.” We knew it would come to this.

In the War on Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving was bound to lose.