Wednesday, December 25, 2013

American Christmas Calendar: Beginning with Halloween and Thanksgiving

Enter the Americans.  We'll let the rest of the world celebrate Christmas any way they like.  After all, we mix ours up with a little bit of Hanukah music and freshly minted Kwanza traditions.  Although, surprisingly for a country based on religious freedom, we still have a problem with some parts of the world that don't celebrate at least one of these three.

Please do allow us to dictate the schedule, though. 

Bringing light to the darkness?  One can see why the early Europeans would have wanted some comfort pre-winter solstice!

Halloween is not a pagan orgy of Satan worship, debauchery and child worship.  Sorry to disappoint.  It is a prelude to The Season.  On October 31 entire neighbourhoods practice putting up decorations before the snow hits.  They are orange and black instead of red and green.  These are the warm up colours.  Parents and children parade through the neighbourhood knocking on doors and asking for candy.  Done properly - and en masse - it is the most family-oriented holiday ritual I have ever been a part of.  It's not too cold to be outside after dark yet.  Kids are happy.  Parents are happy.  Entire communities are happy.  Happy kids high on sugar spread joy.  Think of it as carolling, if it makes you feel better.
Counting up the loot post trick-or-treating in Narangba, Qld!

And the logistics of coordinating trick or treat groups while still managing to keep one person home to pass out treats (or risk having their lawn toilet-papered) begins to prepare everyone for the massive coordination efforts required at Christmas time.

Thanksgiving, too, is a misunderstood holiday.  Why WOULD we celebrate the fact that the Native Americans helped the Pilgrims out through that first horrible winter, taught them to grow native plants, to hunt and to survive when we turned around and basically wiped them off the face of the continent only a few short years later?  It's a bit like rubbing salt in the wounds, isn't it?  Talk about sore winners!

Or we could have made pumpkin pie with them!

Thanksgiving is important because it falls on the last Thursday of November.   Commandment number eleven in the American, secular Christmas code is this:  THERE SHALL BE NO CHRISTMAS BEFORE THE LAST THURSDAY OF NOVEMBER.    None of this putting up the Christmas tree on November 14 because you can't wait to get started, mates.  This is as ludicrous as the Germans waiting until December 24.  Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the go ahead for Christmas madness to commence.  Although, it IS nice that the Australians don't kill anyone to do it. 

This year I started to think of Thanksgiving as a tribute to one man, to Squanto, who as legend tells it was the main intermediary between his tribe and the suffering newcomers.  Can you imagine the scene?  This new group of strange people, who have entered your land without permission or courtesy and begun to hack down trees and destroy land, are dying en masse.  They are starving before your eyes.  How easy would it have been to slaughter the rest of them and have done with?  Threat averted.  Problem solved.  How many of us would have shown the level of compassion Squanto and his people must have shown in order to overcome their (very justifiable) fear in order to treat these people as humans and offer them help?

A pirate, some Saracen knights and a zombie.  Not speaking well for ourselves!

It would be a holiday to commemorate generosity and compassion and mercy.  People all over the world could relate to it:  Tibetans, Aboriginal Australians, the Irish, any people who have been shunted aside in the name of progress and imperialism.  It could honour Ghandi, Mandela and King.  Sure, Jesus too. 

Maybe call it forgiveness instead of thanksgiving.

Aw!  Now THAT's what I'm talkin' about!

To make it more fun and less threatening to the old imperialist order still in charge we could have Squanto come bearing gifts to leave under the turkey and pies.

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