Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A State of Mind

There is a song from the old Broadway show, Mame, titled “We Need a Little Christmas.” You will no doubt hear it if you listen to a radio stations that plays continuous Christmas music from mid-November through Christmas Day. One of the verses goes as follows, evidencing the song’s recurring theme:

We need a little Christmas! Right this very minute! Candles in the window, carols at the spinet, yes we need a little Christmas, right this very minute! Need a little Christmas now!

In the play the song is performed by Auntie Mame and her nephew, Patrick, acknowledging the hard times they are experiencing but agreeing that, by pretending it is Christmas, they can take at least momentary solace. In one of the other lines in the song, Patrick states, “But Auntie Mame, it’s one week from Thanksgiving Day now.”

I am guessing Patrick meant Thanksgiving was one week away rather than one week in the past but either way, this line from the song would today be ludicrous. Stores are completely decorated for Christmas by the day after Halloween if not before. This has been going on for some time now and to an extent, it is understandable. Retailers depend on the Christmas season for a huge part of their year’s revenues.

Now, individuals have caught on to the early decorating and preparation. Several houses in our neighborhood are already decked out for Christmas and I am confident that, by this weekend, many of our friends will have put up their Christmas trees.

This past weekend at our church, the entire service was devoted to kicking off our “Global Christmas” where, for a number of holiday seasons now, members have been urged to give to a fund that is used throughout the year to support worthwhile causes and ministries all over the world. The emphasis is on the idea of giving rather than receiving and the special offering will be taken in mid-December. It is always a wonderful time in our congregation and extremely heartening to see people look beyond what is sometimes superficial gift-giving and choose to invest in something with eternal worth.

There was no acknowledgement, however, of Thanksgiving, other than the pastor who was speaking saying something like, “I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but . . .” No “Come Ye Thankful People, Come” or any other song or reading to acknowledge the holiday that has become pretty much the gateway to the Christmas season.

I used to get all worked up over this, lamenting the fact that Christmas has become so commercial and we just skip right over Thanksgiving. I scoffed at the early decorating and the playing of Christmas music starting in early November.

After a lot of good natured ribbing and outright laughter from my wife and children, though, I have completely mellowed about it all. I have come to realize that Thanksgiving is a state of mind (as is the commercialization of Christmas, but that’s for another day). If I am having a problem being as thankful as I should be, well, that is a problem of my own making.

The fact that Christmas decorations are up should not prevent me from being thankful. On Thanksgiving Day I will get up and go participate in a 5K to benefit Habitat for Humanity. I will go serve at a little inner city church that caters to its community, many of whom are way down on their luck. I will come home and enjoy a wonderful meal with my wonderful family (who laugh at me, but that’s OK). Again, something is way wrong with me if I am not thankful after a day like that.

I am thankful for so much and my heart is full as I think of the blessings I have. And to anyone reading this, I hope you are thankful also. And if you want to put up your Christmas tree tomorrow or this weekend -- or if you put it up last week -- you have my blessing.


Redlefty said...

I'd be thankful if you could come over and put up our lights. I'm not crazy about the whole ladder/roof thing!

Kelly said...

I can be a bit of a scrooge when it comes to decorating. Probably because the majority of it has always fallen on my shoulders. I'm sure we'll be fully decorated before the weekend is over.

Hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Debby said...

Tomorrow, I will get out my creche. We don't put up our tree until the last minute...we cut a live one.

But I enjoyed Thanksgiving, too. I've got a lot to be grateful for. I read a quote in the Guideposts.
"There is no greater gift at Christmas than to have everything you want before you open your gifts." My kids are home. I have everything I want. What a nice holiday I've had.

Happy Thanksgiving, Bob.

Pam said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Bob! I'm thankful that I had a fantastic day with just Trish, the boys and me.

I'm also thankful that I got some of the decorations done yesterday and today. Today was the outside. It was fairly warm and the rain didn't start until tonight.

I'm thankful I have the rest of the weekend to finish decorating. Since I only have a bit of help getting things in from the garage and down from the attic, the rest is up to me.

It's not easy to corner anyone to do that much! So, it's nice that I have all weekend to finish decking the halls for my favorite season!!

Next week it's back to work and little time for trimming and hanging. I'm thankful that it will all be done and I can relax and enjoy the season.

Hal Johnson said...

Great post, Bob. Indeed, so much of the spirit of Christmas is in the state of mind.