Remembering Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2010

“Are the trees part of Thanksgiving?,” my four-year-old asked from the backseat as we drove past a stand selling Christmas trees.

It was the day before Thanksgiving.

“No,” I started to answer, before the radio’s Christmas carols interrupted.

When did Christmas become a part of Thanksgiving?


Admittedly, Advent comes early this year – it starts tomorrow – but that’s clearly not the answer, since what I call “the commercial Christmas” bears no relation to the Christian practice of Advent, the period of waiting for Christ’s birth.

When I was a kid back in New Jersey, Thanksgiving traditions were a blur of football, parades, long walks through the fallen leaves, and of course, the feast we all still relish.  In my memory, there was a long break between Christmas and Thanksgiving…..they didn’t seamlessly merge together as they do today.


But perhaps that depends where you live. I was relieved to find the site New Jersey football, which shows high school games still being played on Thanksgiving Day.  Unfortunately, here in Bethesda and the surrounding DC area, the high school football season wraps up in early November.

Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday for three reasons:

1)    simplicity

2)    unity and

3)    meaning.


I love the fact that Thanksgiving doesn’t require fancy gifts and over the top decorations. It’s a simple holiday – one anyone can celebrate just by making a lovely meal and giving thanks. It unifies us: all Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. No need to worry about one’s religious affiliation or fear offending anyone. And doesn’t it make sense for all of us to give thanks?

But now, Thanksgiving seems like a few hour weigh station on the eve of Black Friday.

How are you keeping your Thanksgiving traditions alive?  Can we really counter the early onslaught of the overly commercialized holiday season?

— Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Slow Christmas: Fighting Holiday Commercialism

December 2nd, 2008

With the holiday season now in full swing, it seems parents everywhere are asking, “How can I make Christmas more meaningful?”

Taking away the focus on crass materialism has never seemed more important, especially now when so many families are suffering in the economic downturn.

For the next few weeks, in addition to posting periodically about alternative gifts, “green gifts” that help the planet and help green entrepreneurs, and experiential gifts, I’ll also post about rediscovering Christmas traditions that bring meaning back to the holiday season.

Take Advent. Yes, Advent. Did you know we’re in the first week of Advent? Advent is a season of waiting. And in our house, the mantra is not “hurry up, rush, shop,” it’s “Slow down. Be quiet. It’s Advent.”

One of my favorite ways of marking Advent is through an Advent calendar. And yes, although we’re technically in the first week of Advent already, it’s not too late to start observing the season of Advent.

Advent calendars mark each day in December up through Christmas Day. They typically tell the story of the Nativity. Some are “permanent” calendars with little doors through which you can hide chocolates or other treats. Others are boxes with the chocolates already hidden inside.

Last year, we made the mistake of buying just one Advent calendar. This year, there are three – one for each of the boys and one for DH and I to share. And yes – you can still find them. Just last night DH picked up the Advent calendars at Whole Foods. We love the the Divine Chocolate calendar – fair trade chocolate from Ghana. And it seems local too, since their corporate offices are right here in DC.

A few years ago, I established a family tradition of leaving the dinner table to read a Christmas story and then enjoy a piece of Advent chocolate.

And every year, I tell myself that we’ll continue the tradition of reading after dinner. Yet somehow by the time December rolls around, we’ve fallen out of the habit of reading after dinner. But it’s a great habit to pick up again each year. So join me – bring out the Christmas books, enjoy a piece of Advent chocolate (just 20 calories!) and Relax. Slow Down. It’s Advent.

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania