Friday, November 9, 2007

Skipping Right Past Gratitude

As I walked through our local shopping mall, yesterday, I began to feel an undeniable compulsion to head for the exit. I had not been to the mall for a while, nor had I left my home for several days, and so I thought that a bit of "retail therapy" might be good for me. As I began meandering through the shops, I noticed that my body was becoming increasingly more and more tense. I was not relaxing into a "browsing" mood, nor was I enjoying my time away from home. I could not quite pinpoint where this feeling was resonating from. Then I heard it...a gangly young man with a child who was about six years old sitting upon his shoulders, was YELLING, not singing but outright YELLING the song Jingle Bells at the top of his lungs. The girl who was perched high upon his shoulders was taking the lead from her adult counterpart, and at the appropriate moments, she too would yell, "HEY!". Their voices echoed throughout the mall and as I looked around to see how other shoppers were responding, I could tell that people were outrightly trying to ignore their little performance. It was not cute or touching. It was downright obnoxious, and this young man did not care. He went right on singing, as if everyone there had been waiting for his arrival. It was then that I looked around, and noticed all of the Christmas decorations that had already been carefully hung. Like the voices of this young man and his little partner, the fake Christmas greenery and shiny red and green balls, screamed loudly and echoed throughout the mall. It was a rueful display of "too much, too soon". I quickly purchased the things that I had gone to the mall for, and then hightailed it to my car. The hum of people's voices rang inside of my head, asking, "Why are there Christmas decorations covering every inch of the mall, and it is only November 8?" I sat in the quiet solitude of my car for quite some time, trying to figure out what the heck was going on, when a moment of clarity struck me. Somehow, some way, we were skipping right past gratitude, allowing the retailers, who make very little money off of Thanksgiving, to dictate that it was now time to start singing Jingle Bells. My heart sank to a new low.

Gratitude is something that should be celebrated for more than one, short day in November. There are studies that show that grateful individuals are more likely to maintain friendships and family connections. Those same studies show that it is psychologically impossible to be both stressed and thankful at the same time. Think about how wonderful it feels to be grateful. Think about what it feels like when someone shows their gratitude for you. Why then, is a holiday that is so important to our psychological well-being being skimmed over? I truly believe that Thanksgiving should not be a holiday that happens to be crammed in between Halloween and Christmas. It should be honored and respected because gratitude is something that we all believe in. Regardless of religious beliefs, Thanksgiving is a holiday that is celebrated by individuals of all faiths, in our country, and therefore deserves more than a momentary glance. November should be a month that is dedicated to counting our blessings, and not a month that should be filled with thoughts of what gifts we are going to give or receive in December.

And so, yesterday, I made a little promise to myself. In the name of sanity and out of respect for all of the people whom I have enormous amounts of gratitude for, in my own life, I will be staying as clear of shopping malls, and people yelling "Jingle Bells", as I possibly can in the next couple of months. As a matter of fact, I will do much of my holiday shopping online this year. I will take more time to love on all of the people who are important in my life. I will make sure that Thanksgiving, at our home, is given top billing throughout the month of November, and I will remind my daughter's to be thankful.

May you have much to be grateful for, and many who are grateful for you.

1 comment:

Humble Origins said...

...This post deserves a standing ovation! Bravo, Bravo! :o) ...

...This is so true Debra and I couldn't agree more! I have gotten to where I don't have the television on for extended periods of time during the holidays. And I am like you, I shop online. I guess that is the only way to deal with it really, just take the road less traveled... ;o)

...And yes, Thanksgiving is sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas and has been sadly forgotten in so many ways. There isn't much you can do regarding the media except to make Thanksgiving matter in your own life, family and home...that is where all the changes in our society truly start.

...Great post and so eloquently written!

...Blessings... :o)

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