Monday, November 2, 2009

Sick of Christmas Yet?

Now that Halloween is over our thoughts turn to Christmas.

No, wait a minute, isn’t there something else going on before December 25?

Oh yes, I do seem to remember something about people with buckles on their shoes, Indians and green bean casserole.

Thanksgiving! That’s what it is! That uniquely American tradition where we pause for a moment to give a great big thanks for all we’ve got.

I must have forgotten it. And I’m not the only one.

Our country and our children especially get sucked into the tsunami of Christmas commercialism. And every year the hype to want more, more, more, gets earlier, earlier and earlier.

In late September I was super shopping at a super store with my boys. We saw flashes of green and red gift wrap, jolly plastic Santas and stacks of stockings lurking at the end of the aisles. In the weeks that followed the brigade of holiday items marched forward ending up front and center by the first week of November. I actually heard a Christmas carol blaring over the loudspeaker at Target yesterday. My oldest boy, who has been indoctrinated in the importance of Thanksgiving before Christmas, talked me down so I didn’t leave the cart and bolt for the car. Maybe he just wanted to insure the purchase of his beloved Axe shampoo, deodorant and shower gel. I have forbidden the possession of the aerosol body spray for the sake of the ozone layer over our house.

This treason of the season isn’t limited to the stores. You can’t turn on the television without getting bombarded by commercials for special gifts that are sure to please everyone under the age of 18 on your gift list. Most ads feature rosy-cheeked cherubs dressed in designer duds living in a splendor of domestic perfection that would make Martha Stewart seem like a slacker.

The worst commercials are the ones aimed at our kids. They are enough to turn any child who would have wished for a few special gifts into a frenzied brat wanting every toy that the advertisers on Nickelodeon hawk.

I dutifully inform my sons that whatever company puts out the first Christmas commercial I see is automatically boycotted. I have stayed true to this credo for years but I admit it is not that hard since some recent offenders have been De Beers, Carnival Cruise Lines and Lexus.

What is the collateral damage in all this pre-Christmas hype? Thanksgiving.

So, what to do? Here are a few suggestions.

To combat the holiday materialism in our house we have The Turkey. He's a no feathered, bowling ball shaped, construction paper fowl, taped to the door to the pantry. Every night we go around the dinner table and share what we are thankful for. Everything gets written down on a paper feather and added to The Turkey so that by Thanksgiving day he is looking pretty good. One night last year my six year old son wrote that he was thankful for penguins. Another night I was relieved to find out that when my 13 year old wrote "speed" he meant how fast he can run and not amphetamines. My oldest son was grateful for finally being 16 so he could get his drivers license. I was grateful that I don’t have too many gray hairs due to having a car-operating teen. The boys write that they are thankful for each other, with the occasional exception of one son purposely leaving out one of the other two just to bug him.

Secondly, let’s all simply slow down. Shut off the television, skip that trip to the big box store and just enjoy the gifts around you with your children. A trip to the playground, an adventure to a museum, even a walk around the block are sure to lessen the constant barrage of buying.

And finally, let’s try to get back to the real reason for this holiday and count those blessings. It may be a hassle traveling with the kids to see relatives, but be thankful you have people want to be with you. It really stinks when the kids get the flu but be thankful if you have health insurance. It may be hard to parent at times but thank God we have our children.

When you put your mind to it there are lots of things to be grateful for. At the very least you can be thankful that there will be pecan pie for dessert.

Gobble, gobble.

No comments: