Sometimes you fight battles you know you are not going to win. You fight them because a stance must be made and a position staked out. I fear that this is one of those battles.
Just a couple of days after Halloween, Mercedes Benz ran the first Christmas commercial. REALLY? I mean does the commercializing have to begin this soon? Call me crazy but I do not believe in celebrating Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I get the shivers when Christmas decorations go up in the middle of November and Santa begins to make regular appearances on TV. I have just about given up on the fact that on the week of Thanksgiving that there will likely be more commercials about Christmas than about Thanksgiving. But to have those commercials and the Christmas decorating start right after Halloween is too much. I mean why don’t we begin those commercials on January 2 as we come home from our New Year’s party and keep the decorations up year round so that we can spend the year getting good and ready for Christmas?
It is not that I hate Christmas. I am not Scrooge. I love Christmas and all that it means. For those of us that name Christ as our Savior it is an incredibly meaningful time. For those who are not spiritual about Christmas it is still a festive time that should be enjoyed. The value of giving is relevant no matter your religious beliefs. But in case you have not heard there happens to be another holiday right before Christmas called Thanksgiving that has a lot of significant meaning as well. And lest you think I am being too “spiritual” about it I have been one of those idiots who engages in Black Friday shopping “after Thanksgiving”. Even to the point of getting up at 2 in the morning to be ready when the stores open at 5. (Although for me there will be no “Black Friday” shopping on Thanksgiving. Get with the program Walmart!!!). I am not in some sort of war against Christmas. But there is literally a season for everything, and the season for Christmas does not begin until after Thanksgiving.
I know that some are hesitant to honor Thanksgiving because of what happened historically with the Native Americans (although those are usually not the same people pushing for an early celebration of Christmas). But no matter what you might think about the origins of Thanksgiving, learning to be thankful is one of the most important tasks we humans can accomplish. Gratitude is an important source of contentment and understanding its value to our society can be part of what one of my colleagues has called positive sociology. But it gets short shifted because we gotta sell one more video game or sound system for Christmas.
Perhaps this is part of what is problematic about the push for Christmas at such an early time. While there are many wonderful aspects about this holiday there is also the crass commercialism that comes with it as well. I contend that this commercialism, and not the spiritual meaning behind the holiday, drives the early push for Christmas. I am not seeing a lot of people discussing Christ’s humble beginnings or the value of gift-giving (except in the context of retailers trying to sell you those gifts) in early November, but a lot of talk about an early Christmas special sale. I am not hearing much about joy to the world and peace to all right now, but I am getting the message that if I do not buy now then I will miss the greatest deal of the year.
Notice how ceremonies such as Advent and Nativity scenes do not happen until after Thanksgiving. Our Christmas celebration with our families does not happen before Thanksgiving. In fact, before Thanksgiving our family time would be in the context of that holiday. The worst elements of Christmas are emphasized early on while the true spiritual side of Christmas is ignored until after Thanksgiving. Those who truly appreciate what Christmas means should be with me in limiting the celebration of the holiday until after Thanksgiving so that the time we are in the Christmas season will be all the more special.
Count me as a “no celebration of Christmas until after Thanksgiving” radical. There is nothing good about this early celebration of Christmas. Yes that is an absolute statement but prove me wrong. Our early focus on Christmas takes away our focus on thankfulness and the beauty that celebrating Thanksgiving can be. It emphasizes the commercialism of Christmas rather than the celebration with family and friends. If I was emperor of the world, or at least of the United States, I would mandate that celebration of Christmas was not allowed to begin until after Thanksgiving. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. I am fighting a losing battle and I know it. But I still gotta fight on. Who knows? Sometimes you win “unwinnable” battles.