Are Holidays Warping Society?

Now that we have a lull in holidays here in the United States, let’s talk about them. Some recent chatter on my Facebook profile has me thinking that holidays are being warped by society.
Or maybe society is being warped by the endless deluge of holidays.
Every day is National “something” Day, but no one pays attention except the marketers of whatever that something is.
Worse are the actual nationally recognized holidays that are treated as another excuse for a sale or to overeat (or drink to excess).
What is a holiday? Why is Mother’s Day sweet and Father’s Day swept over? And who decided everything (even selfies) needed a day of recognition?

Holiday Defined

According to Merriam-Webster, these are the top four definitions:

1. Holy day (does this need explanation?)
2. A day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event
3. Vacation – chiefly the British definition
4. A period of exemption or relief

In the case of this blog post, we’ll accept the second definition. Most people consider a special day off of work as a holiday. We all prefer these are PAID holidays, but that’s not the point of this post.
So, the day is not just for sleeping in and throwing a party. Notice the last part of the definition: “in commemoration of an event.”
What’s commemoration? Again, Merriam-Webster helps us out. It’s a call to remembrance or mark significance by ceremony or observance.
On Mother’s Day we remember our mothers by bringing them cards and gifts. Perhaps taking them out to lunch or dinner.

No Love on Father’s Day

Father’s Day should include the remembrance of fathers. They should be showered with cards and gifts.
Recently, I observed an interesting (and I thought amusing) difference in the WAY mothers and fathers liked to observe their holidays. I posted on Facebook this innocent comparison:

Father’s Day: Dad wants to grill his meal
Mother’s Day: Mom doesn’t want to cook or clean

I found this entertaining because Mom generally cooks on EVERY day, so in honor of her special day, she’d like a break from that work. Isn’t that the very definition of holiday (see number two definition above)? But since Father’s aren’t generally (meaning I know this isn’t true in ALL cases, so no men need to get offended at my admitted generalization) responsible for cooking, they want to play with their grill and cook up some fatty brats and burgers (or steak and ribs).
One female friend responded that my observation was true.
Two male friends said they noticed that father’s were generally disregarded on Father’s Day in lieu of celebrating the women who were both mother and father to their children.
What about the single dads who were both mother and father? Why no commendation for them?
The truth is, I have little contact with my own father and haven’t given him a card or anything else in more than 35 years. But I spoil my husband (as much as he’ll let me) because he’s the most important father in my life these days: the father of my sons.
Is the culture of women’s equality affecting the way we observe Father’s Day?

National “Whatever” Day

The reason I think many holidays are getting bland treatment is because the marketing department heads work overtime to create days to sell products.
On National Flip-Flop Day, there will be a huge discount on the disposable footwear of summer. National Selfie Day promotes selfie sticks and smart phones.


The fact that we’ve made every day a commemoration of something has watered down the exclusivity and sacredness of actual national holidays.
“Oh, it’s just another day.” And so some great fathers get no recognition (or veteran’s or soldiers who died in battle—who are to be honored and remembered on Memorial Day).
I’d joked with one of the men who commented about this disparity on my Facebook post, “We should have a National Appreciate Someone Day.”

And we both claimed that Monday as the day to appreciate someone and we affirmed each other.

Because adding such a day would only exacerbate the problem. Stores would carry “I appreciate you” mugs and florists would sell “You’re appreciated” balloons. Money would be made, but the impact would be trampled beneath the push to commercialize the day meant for connection.
Every day of our lives should be marked by gratitude for the courtesy, hard work and dedication of those around us. It should be an automatic thing to say, “Thank you” (and mean it) and tell people how much we appreciate the things they do.
What do you think? Are the abundance of holidays warping the effectiveness of those days to commemorate special people or events?

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Giving Thanks for What I Love about Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I think I say that on this blog every year.

But it’s true. And time has not changed this fact.

Why do I love thanksgiving so much? Let me see if I can show you with a few pictures.

The whole gang playing Settlers of Catan
The whole gang playing Settlers of Catan

 

The best part of Thanksgiving is gathering with my family. This year, we’re celebrating in Lincoln City at my sister’s new home.

Bluster. Beach. Baking.

Sounds like a perfect setting for the annual thanksgiving feast.

Feast?

That brings me to the food.

I love thanksgiving food. Turkey is healthy, too.

The things I love? Not so much. Cornbread stuffing slathered with turkey gravy. I could have an entire plate of that ambrosia.

 

 

thanksgiving dinnerAnd don’t forget the dessert. This year, I baked my sister’s favorite – cherry pie. Next year, it will probably be my father-in-law’s favorite – apple pie. Pretty much, if it’s pie – and there’s ice cream – I’m in.

desserts

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about you? What do you adore about Thanksgiving?

The Perfect Date

Every wedding has a perfect date, right? The calendar around our house includes a big red heart over January 2, 2016.

My first reaction to this date was: what? Won’t it interfere with all the hoopla surrounding New Year’s Day? After all, the day before the wedding is usually the rehearsal. The day before that is often reserved for Bachelor/Bachelorette parties.

How will all this mesh amongst the regular holiday fervor?

Somehow, it will.

Reasons why a Winter Wedding needed to be close to Christmas

My future daughter has a lovely party of four young ladies. Three of them are still in college. Two of them attend college out of state. One of them works for the school.

Reason number one: This is a convenient time for her special girls.

Snowflakes are central to her decoration motif. So, having something closer to Christmas – before December 25 – would probably tend to include red, green, poinsettias and Christmas Trees. Not the look she’s going for.

Reason number two: She doesn’t want her wedding to compete with Christmas.

Did you dream about your wedding? Did you imagine certain colors and people? Maybe you wanted a summer wedding because that is so traditional. Good luck booking a popular location if you choose to “follow the crowd.”

Reason number three: Who wants to be like everyone else?

The colors she loves – turquoise, lavender and silver – scream a season, don’t they? You can picture the chill of ice in that pale blue. A winter sunrise tints the horizon lavender. And who doesn’t love the silvery sheen of icicles and snowflakes?

Reason number four: Her colors meshed perfectly with a winter wonderland.

How we plan to Cope

People are creatures of habit, sure. They have their set gatherings for December 31st. How will possible wedding-related activities fit into this hectic schedule?

  • The people who care about this wedding will happily adjust their schedules.
  • What’s wrong with a rehearsal dinner in place of a traditional New Year’s Day feast?
  • This wedding will only intrude once. Stop grumbling. Adapt!
  • It’s going to be such a special time, no one will want to miss it.

Certainly things around our house will look different during Christmas 2015 as we push toward the day-after New Year’s wedding celebration. Different doesn’t mean bad.

In my world of an empty nest, it’s time to stir up the family traditions anyway. Adding daughters (and eventually grandchildren) deserves to take precedence over long-standing “We’ve always done it this way” traditions.

What’s your thought? Do you think most people will embrace this interruption to their usual New Year’s traditions?

The Day after Christmas

A lot of Christmas Gifts
Around our house, the day after Thanksgiving and the one after Christmas are predictable. Except for this year.

In my rush to avoid Christmas, a few traditions got trampled underfoot. The biggest ones had to do with seasonal decorations.

In the Hughson house, the day after Thanksgiving means decorating for Christmas.

It involves lugging dozens of boxes in from the garage, emptying them and refilling them with non-seasonal knick-knacks.

Two things interfered with that this year:

  • Selling our house
  • A vacation to Mexico

The extent of decorating my house: I pulled a centerpiece my mother bought me several years ago off the top shelf of a rack in the garage. I unwrapped it from its garbage bag and placed it in the center of the dining room table.

I removed the autumn leave centerpiece and table runner and put them away in the laundry room.

Decorating: Done

One lonely angel proclaims that Jesus is the Reason for the Season
One lonely angel proclaims that Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Of course, this lack of decorations affected today’s traditional UN-decorating of the house and tree. There was nothing to take down – not even a string of Christmas lights (which are my favorite decoration of this holiday season).

What are your holiday traditions? Have circumstances altered or derailed these traditions?

All I Want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas is to skip the whole thing.

I’m not looking forward to it. At all. I have reasons. Darn good ones too. So why don’t you hear me out before you label me “Scrooge” and move on?

Reason #1

Last year my mother was in the hospital at Christmas. This year – she’s in Heaven.

While that’s great for her, it leaves a pretty large hole in our family. If you knew my mother, you would understand that her shoes might have appeared small, but they are impossibly unfillable.

Just like I cried through Mother’s Day, I have to face my first Christmas without my mom. It’s not easy. They say people are more depressed at Christmas than any other time of the year. And I can see it.

It’s a time built around memories. Sometimes memories hurt. Grief cuts like a knife.

This is the biggest reason I vote for skipping directly from December 23rd to December 26th this year. I have others…

Reason #2

Things are changing in the old Hughson household.

This year, Christmas morning will be different. Next year, it will be different again. I’m the one who instituted a host of Christmas morning traditions. Same breakfast. Same cocoa. Same reading of Luke 2.

Change is great. It is inevitable. It is not for Christmas.

Reason #3

I am going to Mexico for a week and return home on December 20th.

This is great news for my sun-loving psyche.

This is horrible news for the traditional holiday baking plans. I am not planning to decorate my house – must keep it staged for prospective buyers for one thing. Who will water the tree while we’re gone? Why do I want to expend energy decorating when I’ll be gone for a week?

Reason #4

I get sick of all the hype and materialism. I’ve posted about that subject in the past.

Christmas is about two things in my world: Jesus and family. None of that needs a Black Friday for shopping explosions and excellent deals. I’m happy to sit around singing carols and playing games while with my family. Who wants to fight the crowds to find the perfect gift only to realize – there is no such thing?

Reason #5

Everything gets topsy-turvy in my daily schedule once December arrives.

I just want to lock myself away with my computer and finish writing something. I want to check off my writing goals and reach that pedestal of published bliss.

Yes, I’m out of touch with reality. This could be why I write fantasy novels.

No one is going to fast forward past the next few weeks. I don’t want to miss a moment of the family vacation in Mexico.

I might want to skip Christmas, but it won’t happen. As the Grinch found out,

“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!”

I guess there’s no chance for me to actually skip Christmas, is there? In that case, all I want for Christmas is … a happy day with my family.

The Death of Summer and its Final Barbecue

Image from hooverwebdesign.com

Labor Day marks the official end of summer. The Tuesday following kids head back to school.

On the west coast anyway. Elsewhere in the US, kids have been back to school for a week or two already. It’s hard for those on this coast to let go of summer.

Isn’t it a given that the preferred cooking method after Memorial Day is the barbeque? Gas, propane, wood or charcoal may fuel it, but it’s the way beef is done – in July.

Sometimes a handful of family members might recline on the deck at our house. Other years, we’ve loaded up the essentials and taken our Farewell to Summer Party to a park.

So it was this year. Since our youngest son is already in class at college (that Quaker school he attends does things a little “other coastal,” if you get my meaning), it was a gathering with friends. Specifically friends from our church.

Hot dogs and hamburgers might make the grade during the summer, but at the last barbecue, a few other dishes are required.

First of all, fresh corn on the cob is essential. Roasted directly in the coals wearing its own husk makes it downright delicious. Grilling it on the barbie will satisfy, but if you bring out the boiling water, we will cry.

September is corn harvest season on the left coast. You can see overloaded semi-trucks with the golden delicacy. Come back in October for the largest corn maze this side of the Rockies.

Another staple on Labor Day is watermelon. The best watermelons in the world are grown in Hermiston, Oregon. I can eat the heart out of one of these juicy red mamas.

In fact, one of my worst memories from tweenhood centers around my ability to do just that. Apparently, it’s okay to eat your own heart out, but it’s a heinous act of selfishness to eat the heart out of a watermelon.

So said the blistering tongue-lashing my father gave me when I at the heart out of that melon. It sat covered and minding its own business atop the washing machine. It even had black seeds in it. Actually, they marked the edges of the succulent heart.

Back to the last barbeque…it’s nice to recline in the camp chairs around a fire pit roasting corn. It’s even more glorious when the sun agrees to drive the clouds away and spill a golden spotlight on the gathering.

Games you might enjoy at summer’s goodbye bash: volleyball, badminton, softball or horseshoes. Regardless of the choice, there will be lots of ribbing for the losers (as if losing wasn’t its own form of ridicule). My mom liked to call this “Love talk.” You only tease those you love, she said. The worse the taunting, the deeper the love.

Love flows at both ends of the horseshoe pits. Camp chairs line the sides (a safe distance away) and love talk sails with more regularity than ringers.

Alas, summer gives up the ghost for another nine months. The red, yellow and brown leaves already announce autumn’s arrival.

Best of all, school starts. But for the second time since 1997, that means nothing to me. The Tuesday after Labor Day is just another day pulled up to my desk letting my fingers find the right way to spill words on a page.

Summer may have ended, but my novel has a few more chapters before it makes way for a new season.

What traditions do you have for Labor Day?

Thanksgiving Present

My baby - so grown up!
My baby – so grown up!
The whole gang playing Settlers of Catan
The whole gang playing Settlers of Catan

Since I gave you a blast from the past last week, I thought I would share a visual update from this year. I’m so thankful to gather round the table with my family.

My sister (the birthday girl) and her youngest
My sister (the birthday girl) and her youngest
Tanner and Sara
Tanner and Sara

I’m Thankful

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’ve mentioned this several times, but it bears repeating. I’m even looking forward to it this year when I’m going to be the hostess.

I’m not the hostess with the mostest, I can tell you. I’m the hostess who serves crunchy baked potatoes. Or doesn’t have enough of the main dish to go around. Or stresses out so much about every little thing that she can’t enjoy the moment.

Not this time. This time, I’m counting on my sister to bring her awesome cornbread stuffing and taco dip. My mom will bring green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. My husband will help me hoist the hefty turkey into the oven at the appropriate hour so it finishes cooking by 2:30, when everything else can then go in the oven to be cooked.

It’s not about the stuffing. I love stuffing. I could eat turkey and stuffing slathered in homemade gravy and nothing else and feel extremely thankful. I repeat: it’s not about the stuffing.

I love Thanksgiving because it reminds me to be thankful. I may be thankful to the many people in my life who love me, but most of my thanks go heavenward. After all, I wouldn’t even be breathing if it weren’t for the Almighty God who holds creation in the palm of His hand.

I’m thankful for my husband. He’s a great provider for our family: financially, spiritually, and physically. That’s why I call him Mr. Wonderful.

I’m thankful for my sons. They work hard in their endeavors. They have brilliant minds and entertaining personalities. Watching them conquer the world makes every sacrifice I made for them worthwhile.

I’m thankful for my sister. After all, she’s the one bringing the stuffing. No, kidding aside, she inspires me to be my best, to try things that scare me and most of all to follow my dream of becoming a published author.

I’m thankful for my mother and stepfather. Mom has been fighting cancer for several years and she inspires me to keep going forward when things seem impossible. Her strong personality is the cornerstone of my own willfulness. (Really, that’s a good thing.) My stepfather has stood by her and loved her through all of these trials. Thank you.

I’m thankful for my nephews and niece. They’ve faced difficult times these past few years and it hasn’t stopped them from becoming the people God wants them to be. They make me proud to be an aunt.

I’m thankful for my home. It’s big enough to host this host for Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m thankful for more than I could list in this post without losing the interest of my readers. Suffice it to say, I’m thankful that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I’m thankful that God plays an important role in my everyday life.

I’m thankful that I can pursue my dream to be a published author. I pray every day: “Lord, let me use this gift for your glory.”

What are you thankful for today?