It’s the day after Halloween, and I bet some of you have already seen your first sign of Christmas advertising.
It used to be that Christmas Commercial Season began as soon as Santa made his way past Macy’s department store in New York City Thanksgiving morning, which was bad enough, according my mom’s rantings. Now, it begins the morning after Halloween night.
This is ironic for a few reasons. First, we still have a holiday to celebrate, and it’s one that involves being thankful for the things we already have, rather than planning what we already want to get next. Second, today is All Saint’s Day…the whole POINT of Halloween…in which we traditionally give thanks for the sacrifices made by those extraordinary people who gave up everything for their faith and their world, followed by All Soul’s Day November 2nd, in which we give thanks for everyone who has gone before us.
But these concepts don’t sell candy, cards, and toys, so we skip them completely to make room for more time for thinking about everything we NEED and WANT. And more time for advertisers to tell us and our children what those things are.
In the last post, we discussed how to streamline our approach to the impending holiday season by focusing on what values we want to celebrate and preserve, and, on the flip side, what drama and waste we want to avoid.
This week, let’s think about how we can preserve the true SPIRIT of each holiday by stretching it out into an entire season. Just as a bad habit is most easily broken by replacing it with a good one, we can fight the damaging commercialism of the holidays by replacing it with something authentic, pure, and simple.
Halloween: It’s not too late to salvage this! Spend some time today and tomorrow in gratitude for the “saints” and “precious souls” in our lives who went before us and helped us get where we are today. Let’s talk about them at dinner tonight with our spouse or children. Write a letter or call any living saints we have in our life and let them know what they’ve meant to us. Mark your 2012 calendar to remember these two days next year and approach Halloween with them in mind.
Thanksgiving: All too often, this holiday has been reduced to a marathon car trip, hours alone in the kitchen, a 30-second prayer, an hour of gluttony, and more hours in the kitchen cleaning up while the men watch football.
How can we turn the 30 seconds of thankfulness into an entire season? Younger families can create a “thankfulness jar” for kids in which every day, something is written down to be saved and read at the Thanksgiving meal. Older families with tech-savvy teens can create a Google document where everyone contributes funny stories and memories over the month to be shared at the gathering. Single adults can reach out to one person a day in the form of a letter, a phone call, and email, or a coffee date, in which each person is told how much they are valued and appreciated.
By proactively celebrating the values of these holidays we endorse, we avoid a season of discontent, despair, and debt. We also avoid any feelings of depravity from our children, because they will begin to view the season as something more than what commercials are telling them, and will be able to hold onto an entire season of pure, authentic, sustainable memories instead of looking for the quick, cheap thrill that’s gone in a moment.
Next week, we will continue this discussion with Christmas, and how to revive the concepts of advent and the 12 Days of Christmas to create a spirit of abundance and contentment in ourselves and in our children.
- Share any Thanksgiving traditions you have that can be used to stretch out the season for all of us.
- Make a list today of all the people for whom you are thankful. Write out a plan for how you will reach out to each of them between now and Thanksgiving.
- Start each day with a prayer of gratitude. Keep a list of what the things are, and return to it often.
- Check out these links for wonderful prayers of thanksgiving, and read a few aloud: http://www.churchyear.net/thanks.html
- Read the following passages in the Bible in which prayer and thanksgiving are intertwined:
- Daniel 6:10
- Philippians 4:6
- Colossians 1:3
- Colossians 4:2
- I Timothy 2:1