Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
December is coming. Time seems to speed up as we head into the last month of the year. Winter coats and gloves have replaced autumn’s lighter jackets and darkness falls by 4:00 each afternoon. Thanksgiving is around the corner, and we are prepping for cappeletti making in anticipation of the traditional soup course that precedes our big family dinner.
I am further reminded of approaching holidays by the relentless onslaught of commercials. Red and green foil-clad candies dance to Jingle Bells while men and women gaze into automobile showrooms at the Cadillac or Lexus they hope to find in their driveway on Christmas morning. Electronics become the must-haves on holiday wish lists and we are urged to shop till we drop. We are in the shadow of Black Friday.
I’m not sure when Black Friday stopped being a day and became a season. It’s morphed into Gray Thursday and Small Business Saturday followed by Cyber Monday. It’s known as Black Friday Creep and it’s relentless. I am most offended by Gray Thursday, known as Thanksgiving to the rest of us. What purchase is so important that it must be made on this day? There is no profit so critical that employees must work on a recognized national holiday meant to be shared with family and friends.
A season that should focus on compassion, sharing and celebrating has been hijacked by commercial greed. Instead of showing respect and restraint stores are opening earlier, forcing employees to work and encouraging the stampede of greed. Mall retailers attempting to do the right thing and close are being threatened with substantial fines. Profit has replaced people, who are now considered a cost of doing business. Workers have little to no leverage, but shoppers do. We can choose not to buy into it by not buying any of it. Vote with your wallets and your feet and stay home.
The shadow of @BlackFriday is a good reminder to ask how I want my holidays to be defined. Instead of shopping, what memories can I create in the last 30 days of my year? What do I want to hold on to and savor once the holidays are over? It is most definitely not the pressure of trying to buy the perfect gift or create the perfect moment that will jump-start the frenzy that results in frayed nerves, physical exhaustion and emotional let-down.
There is magic and beauty in December. The joy of the holidays and the solemnity of Christmas are my favorite parts of the year. In December I want to breathe the spiciness of cinnamon and nutmeg when I’m baking; bundle up on a cold Sunday afternoon to search for red berries for our window boxes and bottle my homemade cranberry liqueur. I want to hear the silence of the first snow fall.
On Black Friday I will inhale the sweet smell of orange and the earthy scents of clove and cardamom as mulled wine simmers on the stove. I will sit quietly with a book, a blanket and the anticipation of leftovers. Perhaps there will be hot chocolate. There will be no shopping.
The Gift of More
Our materialistic culture defines the best holidays as more – more spending, more decorating, more presents and parties… more stuff. When we buy into that we miss the best part of the holidays. What if we embraced the idea of more in a different way?
- More Family
We drive to Maine and pick up my Dad for Christmas. At 94 he is old. I wonder, as I do every year, if this will be our last one together. I push the feelings of sadness away from me and focus on having him with us, preparing favorite meals from Mom’s recipes, and listening to him reminisce. This is the best gift.
- More Faith
As a practicing Christian, Christmas is about what I believe and why. I look forward to the solemn beauty of our evening candlelight service, the music that envelops me, and the readings that tell the ancient story of my faith. It centers me.
- More Friends`
The annual Girls-Night-In Potluck Dinner and Christmas Cookie Exchange. Best Friends Ever. This year’s theme is The Cranberry. It’s on.
Food is at the heart of our family celebrations. Cooking for family and friends is a joy. The abundance of food we have is a harsh reminder of those who are homeless and hungry. Share your good fortune by donating to a local food pantry, shelter or soup kitchen. Be generous.
Holidays are more than dates on the calendar. They are a state of mind all of us can embrace. In the midst of this commercially driven season, spend time in quiet places that let the magic in.
“Not what we say about our blessings but how we use them is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” ~
Related Post: No Shopping on Thanksgiving