Thanksgivukkah Minurkey

As each year passes by, we lose yet a little more of the holidays. There was a time in my life when each holiday was a separate entity. One holiday didn’t begin until the previous one was finished. And the only danger of two holidays getting too close together and being slightly “mixed” was Christmas and New Years (and even then, they were still quite separate holidays with their own separate TV specials).

But this year we’re seeing a totally different creature.

Of course we’re familiar with mashups. We’ve been celebrating Christmakwanzakah for a number of years now. This year a new one has emerged: Thanksgivukkah (because this is the first time in a few hundred years that the first night of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving fall on the same date; and since it was only in 1863 that Thanksgiving was affixed to a common day nationally, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving have NEVER occurred on the same date… just sayin’). Just make sure you have your handy-dandy Menurkey (It’s a turkey and it’s a menorah!).

Yet every year that goes by not only starts the mashup of holidays earlier and earler, it makes them more and more commercial. I think that’s the part that offends me the most. It’s gotten to the point where by mid-October we’re seeing commercials on television, and the decorations and supplies in the stores and on the shelves for Halloween and Christmas (and in some stores, side-by-side). It’s almost like we only have one, really long, all-encompassing holiday that stretches from mid-October to January.

And for anyone of the religious ilk, its even harder to navigate through the mess of humanity ringing their bells, doing their food drives, and their gift shopping while elbowing each other out of the way, cutting each other off, and knocking each other out to get that most favorite toy gift. I look at swarms of humanity at these times and think, “Really?

For me, this is the time of the year that I try to hide. I absolutely dread going to any store, knowing that it’ll just be full of rude and obnoxious people out for themselves, masquerading as a do-gooder doing some sort of charitable work – as if this is the only time of the year the charitable work means anything.

You know, there are 11 other months out of the year when people are still in need.

This year I intend to shun as much of the commercialism of the mashed-up holidays and dive head-long into a more spiritual reality of them. I’m going to thoroughly enjoy my Thanksgiving by giving thanks for every blessing I have been given (and there have been a great many), and not waste it concentrating on when I can get to the store to begin shopping. I will enjoy the day, knowing in my heart that the holiday is not a competition to see how much I can eat in one sitting. I will spend quality time with friends and family, sharing in their lives and catching up with them and just being in their presence. Nothing in this world is more precious than simply being with those you love.

And when Thanksgiving is over, only then do I intend to submerse myself into the quiet “waiting” that we call Advent – a time of preparation that remains separate, and yet leads up to Christmas. I will focus on quiet times, on introspection, on God within, on prayer and meditation. I am going to take my time throughout the month of December, and not wish the time away, or try to pack so much into it that it becomes just one, big, blur of shopping robots.

And when Christmas finally arrives, I will enjoy the peace of the season (which only begins on the 25th of December) and continue to meet up with friends and family, letting them know how much they mean to me as well as the time I spend with them. Life is just to short to put anything on hold that is important to us, and the love of friends and family should certainly rank right up there at the top.

In the end, there really will be no change in the outward. The commercials will still rage on, the stores will still be packed with hoards of people shopping for their gifts, the traffic will still be jammed solidly around the shopping malls, people will still be miserable to each other while grabbing the best gifts for people they barely know… But if we focus ourselves differently – on something that means a great deal to our higher sense of self – then what really changes is what’s inside us. It’s our own perception that will shift us away from the commercialism of the mashed-up holidays and allow us to enjoy each separate holiday – one day at a time.

Then we can comfortably let the world sail by with its Thanksgivukkah Menurkey and a Happy Merry Christmakwanzakah and a Festivus for the rest of us, because it just won’t matter.