Our local newspaper recently ran a cartoon featuring a turkey that had been trampled to death by hooves. One bystander said to another, “It looks like Thanksgiving got run over by a reindeer.”
It seems like every year the Christmas decorations and merchandise in stores and coffee shops come out a little earlier. No problem there. We all love the cozy nostalgia and holiday beverages that the Christmas season brings. We can’t really extend the holidays into January, because keeping the holiday décor on display after the new year comes across as lazy. So why not start the celebration early?
I honestly don’t have a problem with Christmas décor showing up before Thanksgiving week. But I do wonder what it means.
I’m just speculating here, but it does seem to say something about the way we view holidays. As far as I can tell, people aren’t putting their Christmas decorations out early. Corporations are doing this. It’s no surprise that when corporations look at a holiday, they see dollar signs. The question for them is not what the holiday means (unless this helps their marketing strategy) or how it might best be celebrated (unless that means celebrating with their product). The question is how they can make the most money off of the holiday. Smart. Many companies do this well and reap the financial rewards.
Though many of us do get caught up in the materialistic exploitations of the holidays, human beings tend to view holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas differently than corporations see them. To us, these are opportunities to take a break from work, to spend some time with family and friends, and to celebrate life and love.
If we all viewed holidays this way, we would take them one at a time, treasuring each one until we are forced back to the office. We would enjoy Thanksgiving, then head back to the business of our daily lives, then begin to look forward to everything that Christmas means and brings.
And yet Christmas is in full swing before the first Thanksgiving travelers have hit the road. What do we do about this?
I think we take it with a grain of salt. Go ahead and enjoy the Christmassy atmosphere our corporate friends have brought us so early. Feel free to get in the “Christmas spirit” even. But let’s not forget what makes our holidays great.
The presents we love shopping for would be meaningless without loved ones to give them to. Our days off would be boring apart from the realization that we are more than the goods we produce and services we provide. The nostalgia we feel around Christmassy décor would not exist without the fond memories of real people, real life, and true love that it conjures in our minds.
So let’s celebrate Christmas as early as we can, but let’s not let the CEOs of the world make us believe that their products and decorations are the holidays. If that were true, then we would have just lost Thanksgiving. No, what the Christmas vendors bring us are byproducts—commemorative artifacts testifying to the goodness of life as celebrated at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Let’s not confuse marketing campaigns with the substance of these wonderful holidays.