A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Whatever Happened to the Thanksgiving Season?

When I was a boy, there were two clear and demarcated holiday seasons: Thanksgiving and Christmas. After Halloween, it was the season to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Christmas season did not begin until the day after Thanksgiving. No one decorated for Christmas until after Turkey Day, and even though some stores had Christmas decorations on display prior, the real celebration did not begin until the end of November.

Those days appear to be long gone. After Halloween (which is now celebrated with an emphasis I never witnessed as a boy) we immediately enter the Christmas season in high gear. Stores have their decorations displayed by the end of October, some even before; and people are decorating their houses beginning in November. And while we still have a recognized Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., it now appears as nothing more than a blip on the radar screen of the holiday season, and every year some inquire as to what has happened.

But we all know what has happened-- the celebration of Christmas, like everything else in American culture, has become a commodity. Madison Avenue could never figure out how to make serious money off of Thanksgiving, so the task then was to lengthen the Christmas season. Given the consumer mentality of the Christmas season and the enticing lure of lights, decorations, and Christmas music, it was not too difficult to put Americans in Christmas mode earlier and earlier. If this keeps up we will literally be having Christmas in July.

I am simply making observations here. I am not proposing some kind of remedy to the loss of the Thanksgiving season because the celebration of Christmas has become a rather strange anomaly for me as my thinking has changed over the years. Yes, I do celebrate Christmas with family and friends, but I have truly come to believe that it is quite odd to celebrate God's self-emptying in Jesus Christ with unbridled greed and materialism, while we push and shove people in the stores the day after Thanksgiving to get the latest technological gadgets that the stores purposely stock in limited numbers. And for those of you who are planning to start the shopping spree early in the morning on November 26 this year, just know that the retail establishment is greedily taking advantage of your greed.

It would be preferable to deck the halls only after Thanksgiving, but since it seems we will not be returning to a more rational and disciplined situation any time soon, at least some of us can beat the drum of reminder of how far the actual celebration of the birth of Christ has strayed from what it truly means for "Immanuel"-- "God With Us,"-- to have taken the form of flesh on our behalf.

Christmas is not your birthday. It is not mine. But judging from the way we observe the holiday each year, one would think otherwise.


John Byron said...

Here, here! I remember when we only put the tree up on Christmas eve. I am not saying that we have to be that minimalistic, but geesh! There is a radio station in Cleveland that started playing Christmas music 24/7 on Nov 1. Please, let us enjoy the holidays.

doodlebugmom said...

I used to think like that. But then the part of me with an auto immune disorder said its OK to decorate outside while the weather is somewhat warm. And the emotional (sappy) side of me says there is a lot of wonderful music to celebrate Christmas, I like hearing them early and often. (yup I love the 24/7 Christmas music, not that I listen all the time, but its nice to hear a few heart warming familiar tunes after a long day at work). And the frugal part of me, well if retailers mark down something we want, I will take advantage of a good deal.

Don't get me wrong, I love thanksgiving, but I am going to enjoy the Christmas season for as long as I can.

Allan R. Bevere said...

DB Mom, I understand your point. One year it was unseasonably warm before Thanksgiving, so I decided to take advantage of it and decorate early outside. (I'm glad I did. Just after Thanksgiving we hit a deep freeze that lasted until after Christmas.)

I don't want my comments to be construed as some kind of legalism, but I do find the general early shift in the celebration of Christmas over the years to be generally problematic in more than a few ways.