By Dave Kirkland
Well friends, it looks like Happy Holidays has been replaced. There is a new holiday greeting going around. It’s called hallothanksmas. I heard about it last week on one of the morning shows. According to Urban dictionary, “Hallothanksmas is an event running from early October to New Year’s Eve. Due to people’s obsessive need to start the holidays earlier and earlier, the Three holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas have merged into one huge morass of shopping.”
Wow, have things changed! I was a child in the 1960s. When Halloween rolled around all I cared about was going to Woolworth’s to buy my costume, which every year was Superman. It is amazing I am still alive after wearing those costumes which were not flame retardant and plastic masks which made your face sweat and hard to breathe. I would put the costume on and jump off my front porch praying and hoping that I could fly. What a disappointment! Getting a huge bag of candy was my goal. Not Christmas shopping!
Then Thanksgiving came. My family would go to my grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was after one of those meals I ate so much my mother introduced me to Alka-Seltzer. But the highlight of Thanksgiving was the Macy’s Day parade. The dancers were good, the floats were great, but the biggest part of the parade for me was at the very end, when Santa Claus would come down the parade route proclaiming “Merry Christmas!” I would shout out to the television set what I wanted for Christmas. There was no need for me to visit Santa at the shopping center. Santa heard every word I said!
It was after Thanksgiving that the Christmas shopping blitz started. We would get our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. My mother would insist on decorating it herself, and when complete, she would complain that no one helped her. The local newspaper would start their countdown of the number of shopping days left before Christmas. And these did not include Sundays, as there was no retail shopping allowed on Sundays. Now we see store shelves stocked after Halloween for Christmas and other religious holidays of the season.
You know, God must have a good time looking down on us humans this time of year, rushing all around with our overbooked schedules, our type-A personalities, shopping galore trying to beat time, losing patience every step of the way. No matter how hard we try, we cannot beat time.
Which brings me to the point of my message. Time. Think about how we use the time given to us, especially during this holiday season. Does it really take us nearly two whole months to get our shopping done for the holidays?
I would like us to think about how we can use our time not only for shopping but also to reach out and serve others; to make the holidays truly “holy days.” Here are a few suggestions:
• Take time to say hello to a stranger. They may be having a bad day and your simple greeting can make all the difference.
• Take time to drive slowly and be alert to pedestrians and kids walking to work, school or the bus stop.
• Take time to be silent and give thanks to God for all that we have.
• Take time to listen to people before expressing your own opinion. LISTEN!! Then respond.
• Visit a neighbor.
• Write a card to someone and tell them how much they mean to you.
• Take time to help others through donating money and using our hands and feet. There are a number of charities in our area which have opportunities of giving money as well as participation to serve those in need such as an animal shelter or Falls Church Homeless Shelter.
• Take time to attend a religious event celebrating the season. I enjoy going to the Ellipse and watching the lighting of the Menorah. Being a Christian pastor, I look forward to the many ways of celebrating Christmas: a Living Nativity on the front lawn of Dulin Church, caroling in the neighborhood, children’s Christmas pageant, Christmas Eve worship services full of “C&Es” (those persons we see only Christmas Eve and Easter).
• Take time to pay attention to ourselves. In all this holiday and shopping madness, what are our strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, motivations and emotions. What can we do to improve ourselves for the new year, 2020?
During this hallowthankmas season, let us concern ourselves not only with frantic shopping, but living what Jesus tells us is the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
P.S. I hope we don’t begin LaborHallowThanksMas anytime soon!
Dave Kirkland is the pastor at Dulin Church in Falls Church.