We seem to go full-speed ahead from summer to Halloween to Christmas. Where does Thanksgiving fall into this?
Of course, we still celebrate the holiday - whoever is the main cook in the house or group of friends hosting the gathering is busy planning the menu now, making the shopping list and perhaps deciding what items others can bring to the meal.
However, our grocery and department stores have been putting up Christmas items for sale before they even took Halloween items down - weeks before Halloween even happened.
I get that retail outlets, food stores and cyber stores make their most money on decorations, party supplies and even costumes for both holidays - the sooner they make their wares available to the buying public, the better for their bottom line.
But I can't stand it.
I got the title of this post from a Pinterest meme, and that meme was created because I'm obviously not the only person who feels something has gone terribly wrong with our culture - and getting "the push" from a fall holiday into a winter one is overwhelming to many of us.
Don't get me wrong; I love Halloween - I thoroughly enjoy Autumn and have always felt that Halloween is a magical holiday that truly treats all the senses. I also love Christmas - not just for the day itself, but for the decorations, the parties with family and friends, etc., and also for the fact that I'm a Christian person who is grateful that Jesus was born into this world.
I'd just like a breather in between, and time to savor that in-between holiday called Thanksgiving.
I do know many people who say Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. And why not? For those who love to cook and those who love to eat, what could be better?
You don't have to be a particular religion to celebrate Thanksgiving; it's a wonderful holiday of our nation that not only celebrates our country's origins but also unites families and friends over a very important virtue: gratitude.
Look up "gratitude" anywhere and you're bound to find a plethora of quotes, books, articles, blog posts and more about why gratitude is so critical to our sense of well-being.
Some of the quotes that stand out to me are:
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others" - Marcus Tellius Cicero
"The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated" - William James
"The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it" - Richard Bach
I like these quotes because, although they are all about gratitude, each one has a different focus on why taking time for gratitude is important: the first describes how gratitude shapes our thoughts for everything else in life, the second shows why validation of the self and other people is critical and the third exemplifies the importance of mindfulness - of living and truly being in the moment.
That last one? It's critical because current medical and scientific research points to the fact that mindfulness is key to our overall mental and physical health. The focus is not on the past nor the future but relishing the here and now moment. When we do this, we are affected in wondrous ways that benefit us and help us to be better balanced in mind, body, and spirit. When we are stabilized in our worldview and health, the better everything in our lives is, including our relationships with ourselves and all the other people we encounter.
Oh, and yeah, it's not just current scientific research backing up this "mindfulness thing" - it's also centuries of practice in the world's major religions and in the philosophies of the world's the greatest thinkers that have ever lived on this planet.
So, getting back to Thanksgiving and this blog post related to raising teenagers - why wouldn't I as a parent want to help ensure that my kids realize the benefits of a holiday that celebrates gratitude, mindfulness and (we hope) the joy of spending time with family and friends?
Isn't it important than in a world that rushes us into everything and bombards us with more and more information - often more than our brains can handle - that it's important to take time to NOT rush from one thing to another, and to savor things?
What ought we consider savoring? How about the end of a season? Yes, late Autumn is often cold and in fact, we've seen some snow, but there is still some brilliant flashes of color on trees and bushes. The snow is light and looks beautiful falling down outside my window as I drink coffee in the morning or see it under the streetlights at night.
I decorate for pretty much every holiday. Thanksgiving has its own lovely Autumn and harvest decorations for this special time of year.
Yep, it's more work for me to take down Halloween stuff and incorporate just Thanksgiving stuff, especially as I am now logging in more hours at work and have less time at home.
But I'd like to think that I'm teaching my children not to rush into the next holiday - even if it's a really important one from a faith perspective. Because Christmas will be there - we'll get to it.
I'm also not disparaging those who like to jump into enjoying Christmas and like holiday movies, the lovely decorations, etc. I do say, to each their own. I know folks who do this and they don't shortchange Thanksgiving.
Rather, I think it's a sense of saying to my own kids - Life goes by fast. Many things push us and push into being faster, planning for the future, and "being on top of everything."
Teenagers are feeling the pressure of this now more than ever. Demanding classes, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), being "the best" at everything they do/making the "right" social connections, planning for college, etc.
Is it any wonder that statistics for mental health issues are on the rise for high school and college age people (and the rest of us as well).
I try to encourage my teens to take a breather - to enjoy the holiday that our culture sometimes seems to now look at as an afterthought - and be grateful. Not just to make others "feel good," or to force onself to "be happy" with what one has, but to genuinely and honestly slow down, enjoy the moment, enjoy the people and enjoy the experience.
May this Thanksgiving find you in place of true joy, relaxation, and connectedness to the beauty of the day.
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