Most of us grew up with certain traditions, or at the very least (and not always happiest), recurring Holiday themes. When you get married, you bring some with you, you learn some of your spouses, you compromise between the two lists, and you create a few new ones of your own.
One non-traditional, "recurring holiday theme" that I have become adamantly loathe to is the ever-creeping earlier and earlier commercialization of the holidays. earlier this year I blogged on Christmas decorations being in Ross as a sign of the Earth's impending demise. I just detest it. One of the reasons I moved back to Oregon was because I hated living somewhere with one single, albeit sunny, season. I LIKE seasons, whether sports, hunting, or cliatic. I like holidays associated with seasons, and I like to observe them IN their respective seasons. It helps mark the passing of time, it makes each season, each year, more meaningful. My twelve years in San Diego are a blur, with few seasonal changes to act as chronological landmarks. So I am resistant to the idea of observing Christmas until I have finished onserving Thanksgiving, let alone Labor Day!
But the feared redhead and I have established one holiday tradition that forces me to bend this rule, and in this case, I believe it's worth it. Every yuear, we assemble at least one shoebox, preferrably two, for Operation Christmas Child. This is a project of Samaritan's Purse, a Christian mercy organization run by Franklin Graham (Billy's son). They do awesome work. The way OCC works is that you take a shoebox (we buy one of the plastic ones from Target, that way the box itself is still useful after the project), and fill it with toys, candy, and toiletry items for a child. You specify the gender and age group for which you fallied the box, and drop it off at a participating location (usually chrches). The boxes are packed and shipped all over the world -- Mexico, Afghanistan, Iraq, all over Asia and Africa, Latin America, even reservations here in the US. The children receive them at Christmas on behalf of the donor and God (no bones about it, it's a Christian charity). Anyone who has read my blog knows I'm as enthusiastic about private charity as I am skeptical of government largess.
In order to get them to the kids by Christmas, they have to be assembled and dropped off the weekend before Thanksgiving. So I have to make an exception and think about Christmas before the Friday after Thanksgiving. But again, for the good this does, it's worth it. That lesson was driven home this year, when our finances prevented us from participating until the last minute. We'll have to ship the box to OCC headquarters in North Carolina since we missed the drop cutoff.
But even the extra postage is well spent.