Monday, October 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Comes First

As you know from my last post winter has made a rather rude entrance far to early in these parts. It's entirely possible that seeing snow has also affected the brains of the people around me because yesterday Calypso decided it was time to pop in the DVD of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. This was going too far. I pulled out the soapbox and began to rant about how Halloween hasn't even occurred yet, much less Thanksgiving. I have little tolerance for what seems to be the increasingly early push for Christmas preparation.

Last week at work the iPod which plays music all day shuffled around to a Christmas tune. I have been labelled somewhat of a Grinch for running to change the music selection. Call me whatever you want but hearing Christmas carols while the office is decked out in spider webs, skulls, and ghosts is just too dissonant for me. It was almost as upsetting as when Neil Diamond gets piped into the sound system.

Since I have gotten riled about this I decided to join Suldog in his quest to spread the message that Thanksgiving comes first. I am not a Grinch looking to eradicate all traces of Christmas from Whoville. I just want it celebrated in it's proper time and not turned into nothing more than an exercise in gross materialism. Unlike registering a complaint with management about the unseasonable snow it's possible that stating my preference about consumerism about "unseasonable celebrations" might give someone pause, might alter some behavior, might effect some small amount of change. Yes, I know one little blog post on a blog that gets all of 70 hits a day isn't that big a deal but maybe combined with a bunch of others who have all done the same thing it may make a slightly bigger ripple. At the very least I've gotten something off my chest and if my blog isn't good for that much...well, I may as well pack it in.

Mind you I like Christmas. I like the spiritual aspects. I like the time spent with family and friends. I like the traditions. I like the food. I don't like the way stores put up displays earlier and earlier every year. That gets on my last nerve and cheapens the whole meaning of the holiday for me.

As much as I like Christmas, in a lot of ways I like Thanksgiving more. I love that the focus is not on how much stuff you can cram under the tree but rather on being grateful for what blessings you've already experienced. I really love that such an attitude is so contrary to consumer culture that they can't make a buck on it. Ok, so the grocery stores can make a lot of money selling seasonal foods but there just can't be the same advertising blitz and drive to spend that is associated with Christmas.

When Mr. Lime and I were first married we stayed in the town where we had gone to college. We were very involved with the foreign students. If they lived on campus they had to find alternate places to stay during the Thanksgiving break. That's easy if your family is in this country. If getting "home" requires a passport it's a darned expensive and inconvenient proposition to go back there for just a week. Mr. Lime and I enjoyed giving them a place to crash for a few days and often had our own little international Thanksgiving meal with students from several countries. Those were always special times and often enhanced by some foods that weren't necessarily traditional to an American Thanksgiving.

When Mr. Lime and I were the foreigners in Trinidad we found out first hand how much it means to have people in your host country welcome you so openly. It was a tremendously deep celebration for me to be able to give thanks with those who had helped me adapt to a new place so far from family and all I once knew. If you want to read the story of our first Thanksgiving in Trinidad you can find it here.

After returning to the US and settling in another new town we found more friends from other shores. I still remember an unseasonably warm November when friends from Ghana, Kenya, and India joined us in our backyard to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. The most special moments were as were were all gathered and each person took turns sharing what they were most thankful for. I don't recall anyone caring about a big screen TV or the latest video game or stylish clothing or whatever other ephemeral thing could be listed. I do remember thanks being given for health, for new friends, for provision for genuine needs when personal economics were strained. I remember being struck by how these friends and the friends from years past, no matter where we came from, gave thanks for the things that matter most in life.

I want to enjoy Christmas in its time, but I don't want to rush past the time to pause and consider all we have to be grateful for. Thanksgiving comes first.

13 comments:

Desmond Jones said...

Thanks for this, Lime; I, uh, share your concern. I've posted in the past about Advent, and how our family tries to approach Christmas (Suldog posted the link over at his place, but heck, it's a good post, so I'll link it here, too). Suffice it to say that we're not big fans of the December consumerist frenzy, much less of revving it up in October. . .

Your 'international' experiences of Thanksgiving are quite fascinating; and perhaps all the moreso because, unlike Christmas, which is more-or-less 'universal', Thanksgiving is a specifically 'American' thing.

And, between this post and the previous one, you remind me of a late-October blizzard of a few years back (OK, at least ten; we were still in our old house), which resulted in two days of no electricity. That was quite a little adventure, lemme tellya. . .

S said...

I for one think that stores may not be allowed to sell holiday stuff unless it comes to the store in the same month of said holiday.
Halloween stuff will ONLY be available from Oct 1-31. Thanksgiving stuff Nov 1-30
Christmas stuff Dec 2 -25
No Christmas stuff on Dec 1 because thats my bday and I dont want Santa to come to my party.

And so on.

I really dont like Christmas. Thank goodness I married a Jew.

Have a great week and I hear you about that elevator music at work. Just wait til they start playing Silver bells....silver bells...its Christmas time in the city....
(that oughta start, oh sayyy, next week.)

Word veri: fulqu

~Dragonfly~* said...

I agree with you Lime... this whole "Deck the halls for Christmas" is happening earlier and earlier!!! This year I went into Kohl's mid September and the whole store was all dressed for Christmas!!! If the music had been playing... I guarantee someone would have heard about it! Heck... the leaves hadn't even started to change.

As for Thanksgiving... having a daughter in law that is Native American... I'm not the biggest fan. But I do like what it is supposed to represent.

Craver Vii said...

Gosh Lime, until today, I believed that we were kindred spirits, and while I quite agree with you about jumping the gun with all the Yuletide marketing, but...
"there are only two kinds of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't." Bob Wiley

Suldog said...

Lime:

Thank you so much for adding your wonderful voice to the fray. When I post another follow-up, come November, this piece will be prominently mentioned, of course.

Love you!

Cocotte said...

My kids had the day off last Friday and Middle Child spent the day in her room listening to and playing Xmas music on her keyboard. I am a Xmas music hater. Not kidding. Can handle about 1 week of it and then I'm ready to move on.

g-man said...

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as well.
It'a All-American...And it's Non religious!
Everyone can celebrate it!

secret agent woman said...

For that matter, Halloween comes even before that. Take away the Christmas stuff until December, please!

Jocelyn said...

Ah, you've just reminded me of one year in graduate school, when I made Thanksgiving dinner for my sister, mom, dad, and two fellow students: one from Morocco and one of Italian heritage from Providenc, Rhode Island (he was the one with the most culture shock, at our university in the West).

Moosekahl said...

I love hosting what I now call me "Orphan Dinner" for Thanksgiving. I went to college 11 hours from home and then grad school 5 states from home. I was the recipient of some great hospitality from wonderful people like you and Mr. Lime. Now I return the favor. Easter and Thanksgiving are big deals in my own house. Only for financial reasons am I not hosting one this year and instead going to a friends house who has offered. I'll still make my Brandy Pumpkin Pie though!

(M)ary said...

thank you! i soooo agree. seriously, i don't get starting Christmas early. by the time actual Christmas arrives, it is old news.

Mona said...

I like thanksgiving better too! Its more spiritual since it is about gratitude & positive thinking!

Ananda girl said...

Yay! Well said lime! I agree. We have much to be grateful for too.