So, the madness begins. No longer content to commercialize Halloween until it drops, (Halloween villages? Orange lights in the trees? Come on) the almighty Gods of Commercialism takes aim on Chrismas in America in a new and devious way; by skipping Thanksgiving entirely.
Thanksgiving is the new pre-Christmas. Wipe that gravy off your chin and grab the newspaper circular; you've got real shopping to do! Leave the warm bed and the family and drop some coin at your nearest Starbucks or Dunkin' and get goin', baby! You are "bad" at Black Friday if you are not out by 5am; you are not saving $$ for the family like you could, and really should. (By the way, a lot of "self-gifting" going on this year in a tepid sign of "possible economic recovery" - yeah, ok, MSNBC.) And before the turkey is turned into turkey soup, you have checked many things off the list. Funny thing about that, though; the list then grows a little more right there in your gloved hands, in a shades-of-Twilight-Zone chase to be ahead of the shopping 8-ball.
I walked into a decorating superstore the other day to get a lamp, and was hit by never-ending, cascading layers of decorative fake Santas of all sizes and shapes, glittering and twinkling at me, and giant light-up reindeer and elves, and wise men and donkeys carrying empty gifts and giant Christmas-tree decorations (are all our decorations being super-sized at he factory because we are slowly super-sizing as a nation? Do small ornaments make us feel bad in our now-meaty hands?)
The Santas in particular got to me; maybe it was the three-bean salad I had for lunch, but the rows and rows of Santas seemed to be looking at me in particular, and some seemed not to be smiling, but grimacing a me. Like, "I dare you to not get in the spirit here, lady! I dare you to name us grotesque, or excessive, or even over-the-top. Accept it; this is what makes you people feel good now! And a lot of us are hollow, so we're easier to carry and less expensive, too! Now Merry Christmas!!"
I turned around and left - left the lines of frazzle-faced shoppers, left the lights and the music, and left those Santas. Not because I was better than anyone else in that moment, or more enlightened, but because I felt so tired.
Bah, humbug. I am no better than anyone else - I went out and got two light-up reindeer for my lawn the next day, and the Santas looked not threatening, but merry. I will carry that day in the superstore in my memory, however, and put it in the plus column that I felt that way. When you turn your mind (and your shopping cart) away from the commercialism, there is more room to let real Christmas in.
Does the congregation say Amen? Amen! Get thee to a quiet place for some meditation, or prayer, or just solitude - stat! And then your Christmas begins.