Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas Season

Thanksgiving begins the Christmas Season, at least it has been that way ever since I can recall.  After diner my folks would have us write our Wish Lists for Santa.  We’d spend the afternoon dreaming of Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, shiny new bicycles, Mr. Potato Head, telescopes, baseball gloves as sugar plums danced in our heads. 

That night before going off to bed these Wish Lists would be placed ceremoniously on a plate in the center of the dining room table along with some cookies and a glass of milk; might have been a cold bottle of Coke, memory could be a bit fuzzy.  We were told Santa would stop by, read the lists and the magic in his mittens would incinerate the lists leaving only ashes on the plate; hard evidence that he’d made his rounds. 

In the morning we’d run to the dining room, smiles racing across our faces as we observed a small pile of ashes along with a slight burn mark on the china; Yes, the big guy made it! 

My father worked as a furniture salesman at Foley’s Department Store when we moved to Houston.  Each year Foley’s sponsored the Thanksgiving’s Day Parade and it was fun to get up early to watch the festivities.  Later in the evening, after having enjoyed a meal fit for kings, we’d drive back downtown for a chance to gaze at the opening of the store windows where Foley’s had kids with their parents lined up around the block. 

As a young police officer getting up at five in the morning and reporting for six o’clock roll call to work the parade wasn’t as much fun.  You didn’t want to be late; calling in sick was not an option unless you were wearing a toe tag.  The parade didn’t start for hours; but like the Army, hurry up and wait was standard protocol. 

The first few years I was assigned crowd control at various intersections along the parade route.  Later, when I was in Point Control and rode the old three wheeler motor cycle I escorted Santa’s float at the end of the parade. 

I’ve gotten older and no longer put my Wish List on the table for Santa to read; anxiously waking up the next morning to look for the burnt remains on the plate.  Foley’s got bought out by the May Company and goes under the name, Macy’s now; they no longer have a special evening dedicated for children to catch a first glimpse of their Christmas windows on Thanksgiving night.  I’ve long since retired from the police department and no longer have to get up at five, throw on my uniform and race to make six o’clock roll call just so I can stand around waiting for the parade to start.

In a little while the parade will be televised and I can enjoy watching it from the comfort of my sofa.  Marching bands with neatly formed ranks of high school students will fill the air with music they’ve been practicing all month, a chance to shine in the morning sun as their director prays for yet another miracle. 

Helium filled balloon characters will dance along Main Street, held in place by scores of Boy Scouts or other volunteers from the community.  Clowns and merry makers will serpentine along the parade route as young boys and girls sit along the curb hoping to catch a peek at the main event; Santa waving and smiling back, the Christmas Season is here.

Enjoying the parade and all the festivities on Thanksgiving Day brings lots of memories to mind; but let’s not forget the deeper meaning of this celebration, gratitude for all the blessings the Lord has provided.  Jesus is the reason for the season; hold that thought as we prepare to celebrate His birth.

“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”  2 Cor 4:15  

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.


David said...

Funny thing. As long as I can remember, "kicking off the Xmas season" (yes, I use the closest approximation to the Greek "chi" as possible when I write Xmas, for more reasons than just my amusement) has had multiple meanings and occurred at different times... in the same year.

As I was growing up, "kicking off the Xmas season" would occur in one sense somewhere in... September, as my dad would begin rehearsals for Christmas programs with the various music groups he directed. Later, a couple of weeks AFTER Thanksgiving, just a week or so BEFORE Xmas, the performances of those groups would usher in the Xmas season for our family, since it was only after the last one (save for Xmas Eve services) that we'd begin decorating our own home.

Later, when I was directing various musical and dramatic groups, I'd "kick off the Xmas season" around JUNE, when I'd begin making my own preparations for Xmas season performing groups (selecting music, plays, gathering props, recruiting musicians and actors and crew, and arranging for the building of scenery, etc.). Actually, that sort of preparation actually began shortly after... Easter, as I would simultaneously begin sifting music/plays, etc., for both Xmas and 4th of July celebrations. During those years, the only period of time my head would be relatively free of Xmas music would be between Epiphany and Easter...

And even then, Easter would bring many of the Xmas songs to memory. :-)

T. F. Stern said...

David, Your use of the letter X is understood for what it was intended, Chi. My appreciation for music stops at listening; but I can see how someone like you would be involved almost year round. Thanks for sharing.

On the subject of X, are you familiar with Chiastic writing as found in the scriptures, a way of teaching and then reteaching within the structure of sentences? This was used primarily by the ancient Hebrews and makes for some interesting reads.

MK said...

Happy thanksgiving TF, i'm going to be heading off for a break, hope you have a wonderful Christmas with the family.

David said...

TF, the technique you mention, found in even the earliest of biblical writings, is characteristic of a society that whose traditions are both literate and oral. Sure, when folks (OK, mostly men, since boys were given the lion's share of instruction in The Law) had access to written scripture, they'd read it, but the ancient Hebrews mostly "read" their scriptures from memory, hence the technique you cite, since "repetition aids learning" is a universal principle, and the technique runs and reruns neural pathways very efficiently.

When reading became a silent skill--and that began to be common only fairly recently in the history of written language (~6,000 years; only in the last 1,000 has reading silently become more and more common)--memorization of the spoken word (and written as well) seems to have become less and less common. A result? Maybe.

BTW, you'll find similar techniques of repetition--not the same but similar--in other ancient writings. I've always thought these techniques formed links between literate and oral traditions, in various ways (both as a carryover from earlier oral traditions and as a way of preserving those traditions apart from the written word).