Posts tagged: celebration
More than 20 years ago I was sitting in a coffee shop with friends. We were all young mothers enjoying a morning away from the children and we were talking about the encroachment of Christmas on Thanksgiving. It was getting worse, we all agreed. Someone pointed out the toy ads had started arriving in mid-November!
I said I thought that one day in the not-too-distant future, Thanksgiving would lose its place and become a feast day in the middle of a Christmas holiday season that would run from November to (maybe through) January. Everyone just rolled their eyes. Trust the writer to exagerate.
I hadn’t thought about that conversation in a long time. But this year when the candy canes were out before the Halloween candy in some places, and pop radio stations started playing Christmas music November 1st, I remembered what I said that day. I think I was right.
I suppose it is to be expected. There is a lot of money to be made at Christmas time and the longer the shopping season goes the more chances there are to sell and buy. (Of course, when times are hard it takes even more time to talk people into buying what they don’t need and can’t afford, and for a lot of people in this country right now times are very hard.) And because Christmas is a happy time of year—even when the cheer is forced— it’s human nature to want to extend a good time as long as possible.
A day of Thanksgiving is just too simple, I guess. There are no gifts, no lighted outdoor decorations, no Thanksgiving carols. All that is expected of us is to gather, sit, break bread and be grateful for the opportunity to do those things. Turkey-growers excepted, where’s the financial profit in that?
So, here it is, Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November. This will be a busy day. All across the country, people will take time out of their busy Christmas preparations to feast and say thanks. And then they’ll push away from the table and get back to work. Those gifts aren’t going to buy and wrap themselves.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard each week Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)
We sat quietly in the car as I drove across town, the road-grimed headlights piercing the twilight ahead of us. I didn’t even think to turn on the radio. It was only 4 o’clock but it felt much later. I had a sense of being displaced; even the familiar route looked strange and suddenly unfamiliar in the indigo light of the late afternoon. For a moment I felt as though I’d lost my way, before the eerie feeling faded and I was back on track.
The effect of the early darkness and the warmth of the car after the sharp and biting wind outside, silenced us and we kept our thoughts to ourselves as I steered over slushy streets. The sky, pregnant and heavy with the wet snow that would fall later in the evening, hung over us as dull and gray as lead.
December, especially in this northwestern corner of the country, is the darkest time of the year. The sun can hide for days, giving at best only a weak and watery light, rising late and setting early. Little surprise then that decorations go up early and stay up long after the holiday. We are starved for the light.
Still thinking about this, I am struck by the feeling of comfort that washes over me as I turn into my driveway. Light shines warmly through the front windows and I know that once I am inside I will be surrounded by the familiar smells and sounds of home: Dinner in the oven. Music. The sound of boots being kicked off and footsteps on the stairs. The bother of the cat and dogs under my feet, hoping for treats in the shopping bags I am carrying.
So many aspects of the holiday season are centered around images of home. Candles in the windows. Lights on the tree. The Welcome mat. A wreath on the door. A fire in the fireplace. A glass of cheer once you’re in the door. A shared meal. An embrace. Winter isolates us, changes even the most familiar landscape, blanketing us with snow and silence and darkness. No wonder we sing and celebrate and gather. No wonder we act on an ancient impulse to dress up and dance and make noise to keep the wolves of winter at bay.
We may have evolved, but somewhere deep inside each of us beats the heart of a cave-dweller who wants nothing more than safe shelter and the comforting light of the fire.
We are still lost in the dark until we’re home.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com