One night we are sitting relaxing watching our favorite television shows. The commercials during these shows are full of scenes of happy little kids dressed in costumes trick or treating. The next day the commercials suddenly are playing Christmas carols at us with suggestions on what the people on our individual Christmas lists really want for Christmas.
The stores go from a black and orange motif with bite size candy bars filling the shelves to aisles filled with Christmas trees and eggnog filling the milk areas. It has been this way for a while now, I know. There is still something inside of me that really gets irritated at the moving up of the Christmas season though.
When I was growing up after Halloween was finished, we went back to school and began learning about Thanksgiving. Art classes were spent making turkeys using the outline of our hands. We spent the next four weeks looking forward to a family get together that would remind us how lucky and thankful we are to be related to these people. When you think about it, we probably do need a time or two to remind us why we are so thankful to have siblings that you fight with the rest of the yesr.
When thanksgiving finally arrived and was over with, they turned on the Plaza Lights in Kansas City. Kids knew that it was now time to start logging your days of being good. All you had to really do was be good for one month and that would pay off with the coming of Christmas morning. Kids did not begin to get excited about Christmas until after the Thanksgiving meal.
On Thanksgiving morning we would watch the Macy's parade and at the end of the parade would come the great benefactor, Santa. Then and only then did you even begin to think about Christmas.
Times have changed though. While we only had to wait for Christmas four weeks, little ones today will be waiting for Christmas to arrive a full eight weeks away. We only had to be good for four weeks. Today's children are under the immense pressure to be good for eight weeks. That, my friend, is a lot of pressure for a six year old to carry on his shoulders.
Lewis Black has described the modern timetable as Thanksgiving being Christmas Half time. He is right. That is exactly what Thanksgiving has become. By the time you get around to being thankful for all of your blessings and your brothers and sisters you have already spent four weeks preparing for Christmas.
Maybe it is a good thing to down play Thanksgiving a little. I have given it a little thought and perhaps we can now use Thanksgiving as a practice time for getting along with all these people that you spend the rest of the year wondering how you became your sister could possibly be related to you. We spend Thanks giving by getting everyone together. We sit around a big table and eat a meal together without any bickering (because that would not be classified as "being good"). We practice spending the whole day with them, smiling and making jokes until the day is done and we go back to our respective corners and figure out how well we did so that we can do even better on Christmas morning.
To me that is what Thanksgiving has become. A rehearsal for Christmas. Of course there is more to contend with at Christmas. You have to give gifts and hope that you get your loved ones something that they will be happy with. You have to pretend to be overjoyed by the gifts that your loved ones give you while at the same time they are performing the same act about the gifts that you gave them.
Thanksgiving use to be a special day. I don't think that it is anymore. We spend all the days leading up to Thanksgiving worrying about Christmas. Isn't there enough pressure dealing with Christmas when we only had to deal with it four weeks instead of the current eight?
I know it is all about money. Just as in sports when you use to have to end up in first place to go to the World Series, now you can end up in second or third place and still have a shot at the world championship (read St Louis Cardinals here). The NCAA Basketball Tournament use to only invite sixteen teams and it was played over the course of a long weekend. They worked that up to thirty two teams and then sixty four teams to get more games played and to stretch it out over a month to garner more money. Since then they have added a sixty-fifth team. Every game brings in money.
Same thing with Christmas. Instead of limiting themselves to four weeks to talk people into shopping and spending more money then they can afford to, they tacked on another four weeks so you have the opportunity to go even further into debt than you ordinarily would.
Every year it seems that Christmas moves further from a Religious tradition into just a another tradition. A big tradition to be sure, but still just another tradition. I know that Christmas does not cover all the religions, it is mainly a Christian one. But hey, we were willing to share it with all the other religions. I see it as an opportunity for store owners that may not be Christian to be able to cash in on the deal. I have no problem with that.
I just wish that there were someway to trim Christmas back to four weeks. Wait until after Thanksgiving before the onslaught of commercials that pressure us every year. Put some meaning back into Thanksgiving. I know that we have learned that the first Thanksgiving was probably not as nice and neat of a package as we were originally sold on but then again, government offices still close on Columbus day, and we know he wasn't a Saint.
That is all I want. I want things to slow down just a bit. Take the time we have in November to make Thanksgiving truly a time to spot and think about how blessed we all are. Leave December for The birth of Christ, Santa and all the commercial trappings that come riding into our lives on the coat tails of Religion.
Personally? I would be satisfied with just celebrating New Years as a holiday. Get all the Major football bowl games back to that one day and spend the day resting up before starting another year of ordinary daily stress that we deal with all year long instead of recovering from the stress that we just put ourselves through over the previous eight weeks.