If you’ve read the blog long enough to form any impressions of me, no doubt you’ve learned that I value (dare I say sacralize?) the separation of the Sacred and the Profane. I draw sharp distinctions between the holiday and the every day, to ensure that each will be appreciated for its proper value (see The Key to Simple Living: Appreciating the Present). This is never more evident than at Christmas time (see Feeling “Holidaisical”: Christmas Comes to the Zeiger Homestead).
Part of that preference involves maintaining a clear separation between two distinct but closely proximal holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I strive to keep the two separate, and honor them both, even if, for us, the Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving.
Not this year. This year, I’ve decided that the only sane thing to do is to take a big ol’ metaphorical belly flop into the Christmas season a few days before Thanksgiving.
This year, we’ve committed to doing what for me has become almost unthinkable: we’re leaving home for the holidays. We’re traveling south to the Lower 48, that half-remembered, mystical land of consumerism, excess, and shallow thinking, a place where you can hear Christmas music in the stores the day after Halloween, if not before. Where Thanksgiving, after being quickly milked for the necessary food sales, becomes the jumping off point for the Christmas Retail Holiday.
Generally, when Thanksgiving comes, I nestle down into the “homestead,” and relish hearth and home. Even though we tend to hike out to enjoy the feast day with friends in town, we always have our own meal at home soon after. At that same time, I turn inward with a vengeance (see “Closed” for Christmas).
Our travel schedule will dictate that we will return to the “homestead” after the usual start of our Christmas season. Small but (to me) vitally important seasonal rituals will be deferred or ignored to accommodate this. The only way I can rectify this to my own satisfaction is to take the trip, accept whatever comes, and enjoy it. That means humming along to my favorite Christmas song, even if I hear it a week before Thanksgiving. It means allowing myself to start the season early, rather than trying to hold Thanksgiving separate and apart from it. It means banishing the thought: “but, it’s not Christmas yet!” from my mind.
After all, we’ll be with family on this visit that we will not see at Christmas. That is the key to my decision to surrender to the inevitable, early onset of Christmas. I need to fully, unreservedly focus on the family we gather with, to celebrate with them Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one, because by the time “Christmas Proper” comes, we will have scattered to our respective homes, with miles and bad phone connections between us and those we love.