Let’s look at this from a retailers point of view: I have the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to make more than half of my year profit and the difference between bankruptcy and solvency. Hmm,…. I would put the stuff out early TOO!
How about the decorators point of view? I want to enjoy every day of each ‘holiday’ but if there is nothing in the store until the other holiday ends, how can I purchase my decorations, let alone put them up to enjoy them before this holiday is over?
How about the ambiance point of view? Who the heck doesn’t like the lovely light that strings of Christmas lights lend to an evening room with the fireplace lit? Hello? Winner!
But more than these reasons, let’s look at why we celebrate these in the first place. Halloween was to scare off the bad energies that might ruin a harvest at the most critical point of the year. Of course it goes with Thanksgiving- which is about giving thanks for the bounty of harvest that saved the Pilgrims from starvation. They also invited the locals to join them, not just to give thanks for help surviving their new world, but for relationship. They gave thanks for life, for food, and for relationship. This is where the secular argument ends and the Christian one really takes off.
Now let’s look at Christmas/Advent. Why do we celebrate? Going back to original Christmas celebration (neither the pagan roots nor calendar day placement), Christians celebrated because Jesus, their awaited Messiah and Saviour had come. The gift they awaited had finally arrived. The birth of Christ is SOLELY about relationship and life. Christ came to fix the relationship gap (more like chasm) we had with God ever since the Garden of Eden. God missed us and wanted our close relationship back. The only way to do that was to gift us life again (eternal life), which was achieved through Jesus subsequent crucifixion on our behalf. Just like the Pilgrims, Christians are giving thanks for life and for relationship (and if you really want to get into it for theological fun, for food too (bread and wine of the Eucharist).
Are you starting to see the correlation? Thanksgiving sets us up to see and experience thankfulness in our lives; our daily, very human, very physically present lives. It is the perfect foundation to be thinking of Christmas at the same time, preparing our hearts and minds for the greater spiritual thanks for the gift of Christ. God doesn’t just give us eternal life and relationship with God again, but God lavishes bounty upon us in our daily living too- in countless ways. To think that Thanksgiving and Christmas are exclusive, do not overlap, or go together, is in part to deny the gifts and thanks of both. We can celebrate both at the same time. I celebrate Christmas, Easter (eternal gifts) and Thanksgiving (corporal gifts) every day of the year.
I am not necessarily justifying the retail push for ‘buy, buy, buy,’ but I am asking you to reconsider, can we quit complaining about one being over first before we start the other? Why can’t we celebrate both together?