“Why do stores put up Christmas stuff the day after Halloween?”
People ask this all the time, but the answer is eminently practical:
Because Christmas sells, big. That two-month window between All Saint’s Day and New Year’s is a precious one for retailers and businesses seeking to capitalize on a season in which people eat fun foods, decorate inside and out, give gifts, and in general, feel like celebrating, in the process of which, they’re willing to spend money. You can’t blame businesses for taking advantage of a holiday that is like no other because Christmas, though it has its religious connections, embraces people of all backgrounds who just want to be happy for awhile.
“But it’s all so . . . commercial,” one sniffs.
Of course it is. America is commercial. While this isn’t necessarily how we see our culture, it is increasingly how we live our culture, and for those of us who don’t like the consistent and constant commercialization of everything —
“Eat dinner together as a family — and enjoy FoodForU products!”
“Deepen Your Relationship with God — Every Thursday at 8 on God Loves You and We Do Too!”
“Love Is All That Matters — Charge That Romantic Getaway TODAY!” —
we live the daily challenge of, well, just living without being pressured to conform to the corporate message that the more you buy, the better you are.
So it is with Christmas. While it is technically just one day, the entire season is fraught with instructions on how to set up the perfectly themed tree; highly predictable and frequently embarrassing government school and church programs; trite news clips and magazine articles on how to survive the stress of the season; awkward work parties in which we see a side to our boss we would prefer to not know about; secret Santa purchasing obligations; and the annually generated controversy over whether we should say Season’s Greetings, Happy Holidays, or Merry Christmas. Add to that the guilt we are induced to feel if we don’t know when or what Hanukkah is, or Kwanzaa. (A recent social media post informed that there are some 20 holidays between Halloween and New Year’s, and my first reaction was one of panic that, at some point in that two months, I was sure to offend someone.)
It’s no wonder some people give a sigh of relief when December 26 comes by, and stock up on the New Year’s Eve arsenal.
But, as with all elements of our lives that have the potential to be dictated and determined by mass media and corporate culture, Christmas doesn’t have to be this way. At base, it has a message that is worth listening to and living by: Peace on earth. Good will to men, women, and children. Give good gifts to those you love. Seek out those you don’t know, who have needs that are not met, and give. Smile. Listen to the music and sing, regardless of whether or not other people think you can. Find that inner child who’s been lost for so long, and connect to the magical wonder of the world around us. If you feel like you’re spending too much, you probably are; stop, and retrench. Enjoy the process of buying and/or making gifts, and avoid the sensation that you’re working through a list. When that happens, stop again, and ask yourself why you’re doing this.
Have faith in Someone higher and greater and kinder than we are, and seek to be kind, ourselves.
Love the people in our lives, and remember, with that deep, aching poignancy, those who have left this earth before us (nobody has to be instructed to do that; we just do it).
These are all elements and attitudes of living that transcend one day, or even a two-month window. The Spirit of Christmas, which is supposed to be the embodiment of all that is good, is one that we can live all year round.
A complimentary article to this one is Christmas Lasts All Year Round.
The artwork in my articles is by Steve Henderson, who seeks to paint joy, hope, light, goodness, and reflection in all his work. You can find his original paintings on his website, SteveHendersonFineArt.com, and his licensed wall art decor is available at the following online retailers: