I saw my first Christmas merchandise at Ikea this year. It was October 26. From that day, I’ve seen more and more. Now, a month later is it a full blown Christmas in Singapore.
Like many of you, my initial response was “no! Not Christmas yet!” But on further reflection, why not Christmas yet?
Oh right, because WHAT ABOUT THANKSGIVING?!?! Well, here on my little Southeast Asian island, no such thing exists so they get a pass. If you are in the US then…“what about Thanksgiving?” It’s still on Thursday. It’s still the most American of holidays. It still is rooted in a mass genocide buttered over with tales of breaking bread with the natives and forging new “friendships” even if that’s not really what it is about that any more. The meaning of Thanksgiving has been changed to reflecting on how #blessed and #grateful we are – for the big and small.
Just as the meaning of Christmas is no longer really rooted in some sketchy blend of historical facts and religious doctrine about the day Jesus was born, it’s now celebrated by people all over the world, Christian and non-Christian. It’s become something larger than a celebration of Mary’s boy child’s birth.
Why not blend these two evolving holidays into one big, happy holiday season where turkeys and pilgrims and shepherds and Santas merrily dance around a decorated cornucopia of traditions?
If the real meaning of Thanksgiving is giving thanks (and football), and the real meaning of Christmas is about celebrating love and miracles and charity (while simultaneously and secretly REALLY hoping for that material gift), then why not celebrate them together?
Thanksgiving is like the Super Bowl of American holidays. It is our own and ours alone to wrestle with its sordid history. It is unique and will continue to be one of the biggest holidays for many. For years, it has quietly but strongly stood by with its long weekend, next to his bigger, grander Christmas cousin. Thanksgiving has never had the carols nor the fairs nor the fanfare. It’s always had to deal being “just” the kick off to The Holiday season and it’s been fine. Thanksgiving isn’t going anywhere. It’s not going to suddenly get swallowed up by it’s flashier cousin. Sure, the Christmas displays at Home Goods will always get more floor space, but the Thanksgiving themed items will be there. I’m not sure “Thanksgiving decorations” really existed 30 years ago (when Christmas decorations surely did).
Letting Christmas creep around in November is ok. It’s ok, people. In fact, for those of you on Team Thanksgiving, I think this hurrying up of the Christmas season only helps to make Thanksgiving stand a little taller. They can coexist. They should coexist.
This time of year is tricky. On the one hand it’s about all those warm and cherry feelings. It’s holly and jolly. It’s silver bells and good tidings. It’s about gratitude and perspective. It’s about spending time with and appreciating loved ones. It’s about giving. On the other hand, (the one we don’t like to raise) it’s about getting, materialism and consumerism. It’s about stress and ill-will towards obnoxious relatives we have to invite. It’s a cruel reminder for those who have lost and are losing. It’s light and dark.
Any chance at bringing more light, has to be the better answer. Why wait to celebrate? Because the calendar says November instead of December? Why not let the spirit of Thanksgiving mingle with Christmas? Why not let the season of giving thanks echo loudly throughout the season of getting gifts? Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It doesn’t have to be orange red and yellow vs. red, green and gold.
This year, resist the urge to complain about your friend who broke out the Elf on the Shelf already, and instead run over with a left over turkey leg and piece of pumpkin pie for him. Give thanks. Show gratitude. Believe in miracles. Embrace the light. Happy Thanksgiving.