Holiday Hustle

Every year, Christmas decorations start appearing earlier and earlier in stores.  This year, I began seeing Christmas trees at Macy’s starting in mid-October!

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE Christmas.  It is my favorite holiday (and my birthday, too!).  But, I think that we, as a nation, should slow things down a bit.

Halloween seems to get quite a bit of attention.  Specialty stores, such as the Spirit store and Johnny Brock’s Dungeon, pop up at the end of September in vacant store buildings across the country.  But what happens the day after Halloween?  They sell everything for 50% off in hopes of liquidating their merchandise and then they disappear into the wind.

The next logical step would be to think about Thanksgiving.  However, no one seems to focus on this forgotten holiday.  In fact, many stores are now staying open on Thanksgiving Day.

Why are we neglecting one of the most important American holidays (in my opinion)?  This day is about so much more than just gorging ourselves on delicious food and watching numerous football games.  We are supposed to be remembering the true significance of that day. 

People from two different nationalities came together to help each other survive and thrive.  Instead of fearing those that were different from us, we happily embraced the Indians (especially Squanto) for their vast knowledge of an unfamiliar land.  To pay respect and tribute those that came to the pilgrims’ aid, they set up a great feast in which they praised God for all of the bounties that they had received.

Now, hundreds of years later, we seem to have only one thing on our minds:  shopping.  Yes, that’s right.  We shovel in our food as fast as we can, bundle up our children and extended family members and head out to brave the elements in a shopping extravaganza!

What does this say about us as Americans?  As we shove our way past other shoppers, trying to beat them to the biggest bargain, we are forgetting about some very important people:  the workers.  Those that we push all of our goodies to on the conveyor belt, wishing they would hurry up so we can be on our way to the next store.

And heaven forbid if the worker doesn’t make small talk.  Did we ever stop to think for a moment that these people are being forced to work and cater to our narcissistic ways instead of being at home with their families?  That would tend to not make me a very friendly person, either.

Everyone deserves time off from work to enjoy the holidays with their family.  That is the point of a holiday, after all.  And to simply say, “They should get another job,” is easier said than done thanks to our not-so-spiffy economy.

Once the dust has settled from Black Friday, we charge full speed ahead into Christmas.  But, I fear that we are missing the true point of this holiday, too.  Our attitude has turned the act of giving a gift into a competition:  who can give the better gift?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, many complain about the gifts that they didn’t receive and completely ignore the huge pile of gifts behind them.  Then, hundreds of people flock to the malls on December 26th to return presents that they didn’t like in exchange for cold, hard cash.

When I give someone a gift, I put a lot of thought and effort into it.  I don’t simply stuff money in a card (which is so thoughtless).  I actually think about the individual that I am buying for; their likes and dislikes and make my purchase (s) accordingly.

But, in the age of technology, giving gift cards seems to be all the rage.  No one appears to want to find and wrap a gift.  To me, that is a large part of what makes the Christmas season so special.  

One year, I made my Dad a collage of photos and newspaper clippings that dealt with him earning the StormReady Community sign for our town.  I even bought a special frame to accommodate my creation.  He loved it!

Similarly, my Mom received an iPod as a gift from my Dad the previous Christmas.  She was constantly calling me up, asking me questions about how to use it.  So, I created a user guide for her that included screen shots and step by step instructions.  She was thrilled!

My point is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money on a gift for it to be special.  I thought about what my Mom needed and went from there.  Chronicling Dad’s awesome achievement was a neat way for him to remember that special evening when he received the sign.

So, when you are eating turkey on Thanksgiving Day, take a good look at the wonderful people surrounding your table.  Count your blessings for those that are present and say a prayer for those no longer with you.  On Christmas Day, open your presents slowly.  Cherish each item that you have been given and know that not everyone is enjoying the same luxury.

Remember the real reason for the season:  showing love and kindness to others and spreading peace and happiness.  From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!



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