Thanksmas is the way we celebrate now. Thanksmas is the fifth season of the year, in between Autumn and Winter. It is sometimes referred to as just "The Season", as in Season's Greetings and 'Tis the Season... ("The Season", by the way, is the only time of the year that modern Americans use the word 'Tis.)
Thanksmas was once, way back in history, actually two, separate, holidays. The first holiday, which used to be called "Thanks-giving" was one day. That's right! Just One Day Long! On this day, grandmothers would gather together their families, and cook a large meal, which typically included a turkey. Their children would bring the grandchildren, and take a day off from their toil to sit and eat, and talk about their lives and celebrate their triumphs, large or small.
The second holiday of Thanksmas Season was called "Christmas" and it was originally, and I know this is hard to believe, a religious holiday, for Christians only! As part of this tradition, people gave presents to one another. Retailers noticed a dramatic rise in people buying stuff around this time of the year, and decided this Christmas thing was awesome. The retailers big problem with Christmas was that it was, at most, a 12 day celebration. Their other problem with Christmas was that only Christians (or those who claimed to be) celebrated it.
"We should get more people involved in the 'Christmas Spirit' ", said the Retailers. "If we get more people to buy stuff for all their friends and family, then we will make even more money!"
And with that, the Thanksmas Spirit was born.
this buying frenzy called "The Holidays" People would buy stuff for "The Holidays" that they would never, ever otherwise buy. Before, if Bob wanted a sweater, Bob would go buy a sweater. When he went to buy a sweater, he would get the sweater that he liked the best. One that would keep him warm, and one that looked pretty good on him. The retailers had to make sweaters that people like bob wanted, and liked.
But now during this wonderful Thanksmas Season, retailers could make sweaters with pictures of snowmen and reindeer on them, and sell them, not to Bob, who wasn't even shopping in the store because he didn't need a sweater, but to Bob's Grandmother, Bob's Aunt, and maybe even, (if Bob is really unlucky) Bob's Girlfriend! They sold three sweaters to a guy who didn't even need a sweater! and the best part is, when Bob decides he does want to wear a sweater later on, he will go buy one anyway, because you can't wear Thanksmas Sweaters after January! (and he probably won't wear them during Thanksmas either, 'cause they're freakin' hideous!)
So this Season of Giving is a goldmine for the Retailers, and they wanted more, and more, and more of the year to be associated with it. If 12 days of Thanksmas Shopping were good, then 30 days would be great! And If people like 30 days, why not give them thirty five? The earliest you could go, though, for a while was Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving, lots of people were off of work, because, Hey, Why go back for 1 measly day, right? So the Shopping started then. This has been going on for a long time now.
Then somehow, the Day After Thanksgiving became its own, shopping-centric, holiday, and the Heart Of Thanksmas. Today is what Thanksmas is all about. Getting in line (or throng, or mob) in front of a store before it opens at 6, 5, or even 4AM, getting in a fight with a middle-aged woman over a marked-down electronic toy made by a factory full of abused children in China that your kid won't even play with for more than a few hours. That's what Thanksmas is all about, Charlie Brown!
I've been pretty much OK with Thanksmas as it has existed within my life. Santa Claus has his traditional place at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The reasoning behind this is that AFTER Thanksgiving, the Christmas (Thanksmas, really) Season begins. This appearance of Santa at the end of this parade, is supposed to be the first time all year that anyone has seen him. He was at our local mall November 9th. Kids could still be eating their Trick-or-Treats while standing in line to sit in Santa's lap and get two 5x7's, eight wallets, four 3x5's, photo CD, PLUS a Free Gift(a partridge in a pear tree, perhaps?) for only $39.99 plus tax.
So lay off the shopping this year,and do more letter-writing. Look at your traditions this year and ask yourself; Are they meaningful? Are they helpful? Are they causing me (or others) more stress than joy? Are they contributing to "stuff-itis" and clutter, or alcoholism, or weight gain, or diabetes, or chronic debt? Prioritize the people in your life this year; it's OK to do that, really, it is. Do you really have to go to every single party you are invited to? Is the Bass Fishermen's Club party really worth giving your siblings or parents or children or spouse short shrift for?
Just something to ponder as we prepare for the perennial madness once again.