Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy Hallowgivamas

Do you remember when there was a holiday between Halloween and Christmas? It was called "Thanksgiving" and it was one of my favorites.

Halloween was always fun because you got to dress up and beg strangers for candy. At Christmas, when you weren't celebrating the birth of Christ, you thought about Santa and stockings and gifts to give and receive.

Freedom from Want, Norman Rockwell, 1943

But Thanksgiving was a great buffer between these two holidays. It had all of the food and fellowship without the commercialism and trappings. You celebrated the season of autumn. You traveled to relatives' homes or invited them to yours. It was a time to catch up, to visit, to see how the kids have grown. You ate complicated, fancy fare that wasn't normally enjoyed the rest of the year:  cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, a smorgasbord of salads, vegetables, and desserts, and in the center of it all, a golden brown, cooked-to-perfection turkey. 

Other than the cooking of the aforementioned spread, it was a simple holiday. You awoke, you traveled as far as the host and hostess' home or your own dining room, you ate, then you sat around and visited until you could escape to a suitable nap location. Following a tryptophan-induced coma, you scavenged another meal from the abundant leftovers. The most daunting chore following this holiday was cleaning the kitchen and washing every fork, spoon, glass, plate and platter in the house. There were no decorations to put up and take down. Ladders and step stools were not required of this holiday, nor multiple trips to the attic or basement. That was reserved for the next holiday, Christmas, and we would begin decorating for it in the next week because Christmas was about a month away. The truly gung-ho revelers would dedicate the day after Thanksgiving to decking their halls.

These days, that day after Thanksgiving is called "Black Friday" and it's known as the official start to the Christmas shopping season. That's not true, though, these days, as I've been seeing Black Friday deals advertised and have already previewed Black Friday ads and it's only November 17. A few years ago, stores began opening their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving so you could have a full 24-hours to shop on Black Friday. That has now crept in a little more and many stores are now opening on Thanksgiving night and even afternoon, allowing you to shop even earlier and trimming just a little bit more significance off the Thanksgiving holiday.

When I was doing a little last minute Halloween costume shopping around October 29th, I realized that all of the Halloween section in the store had already been marked down and they were clearing the way for Christmas to push in. It made me sad and I wanted to find someone and tell them they'd forgotten Thanksgiving. I realize it's not a big money-maker in retail land, but it's important to me and I hope to others.

How did Christmas get so big that we're in such a hurry to celebrate it? And, more importantly, have we completely lost sight of the true reason for the season? Approximately 2,016-2,021 years ago, we did not have door busters, Cyber Monday, or companies who would put up lights and decorations for you. In fact, it was over 300 years later before there was even the notion of Christmas.

I admit that I, too, have found myself caught up in the frenzy this year. This is one of those calendar years where we only have three weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's easy to think of all of those tubs up in the attic and all of your halls that need decking and feel like you want to maximize the time you get to enjoy the decorations and reap the benefits from your labor. I don't want Christmas to be a shuffle, and I definitely don't want Thanksgiving to get lost in it.