I really and truly love holidays. The gatherings of family and friends, the festive seasonal decorating, and special foods prepared only once or twice a year all feel like love to me. They are an outward display of caring for one another. So is gift giving, and I enjoy trying to find just the right item that would make someone else feel warm and loved.
In fact, I love holidays so much that I honestly want them to come just one at a time.
So here we are more than ten days before Halloween, and along come the trappings of our national obsession with Christmas shopping. We have received no fewer than six Christmas catalogs in the mail in the past week. Apparently retailers still feel a need to provide Christmas catalogs, despite a clear push towards online shopping. Going hand-in-hand with these catalogs is what I call the “Christmas creep-up” of television advertising – just a few well-placed commercials for holiday goods now, and a smattering of Christmas movie promotions. But next week there will be more, and even more the week after that.
I am not a Scrooge, and really do love to shop. But we have clearly become a nation of excess. I enjoy buying gifts for family and friends, but we try to focus on practical things that our kids might actually need. Never the less, shop.org is forecasting retail sales to increase between 13-15% this holiday season – to $82-billion.
And when did Halloween become so huge? The National Retail Federation estimates that 158-million consumers will spend an estimated $6.9-billion on Halloween costumes, candy, and decorator items this year. When I was a kid our single Halloween decoration was a carved pumpkin, and our costumes were whatever we pulled out of mom and dad’s closet, or made with some of the fabric stored up in mom’s sewing stash.
But let me take a moment to reflect on the forgotten holiday: Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorites! I love that’s it’s just a day to spend with family, enjoy a great meal, and pause for a bit to express our gratitude for all that we have.
The TV is usually on the background while I’m cooking since our kids have always loved the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (No – it is NOT the “Macy’s Day” parade – please get the name right. Thank you.) But the only stress for the day comes in menu selection: jellied or whole-berry cranberry sauce, red or white wine, apple or pumpkin pie? Those are the greatest questions and all easy to solve when the answer is BOTH. Okay, there might be a little stress about college football games, but that’s it. No gifts to worry about giving or receiving.
And now, in recent years, retailers have discovered that Thanksgiving is another day when people might want to shop. As if they can’t get their fill on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber-Monday. Seriously, I AM a shopper. But there is no way I want to shop on Thanksgiving Day. Ever.
So here we are, rolling into the “holiday season,” which now encompasses almost three full months. Just thinking about it is overwhelming sometimes. Despite attempts to keep it all at a modest scale, it is absolutely a challenge and that, by itself, becomes stressful sometimes. I pledge to find time to enjoy each holiday as it comes. But is it any wonder that I am also looking forward to New Year’s Day, spent almost entirely in pajamas and slippers?