I went to the mall last weekend. I don't like shopping malls, even if I once did, a long, long time ago. If I have to go to the mall these days it's because I need to buy one specific thing (vacuum cleaner bags from Sears, for instance, how exciting) and then I'm in and out. Wandering aimlessly around the mall, with all the lights and people and excessive things spilling out of stores, gives me a headache. I'll take an hour at my favorite thrift store any day. Maybe part of the reason why I don't like malls is that in order to fully enjoy the mall experience you need money; it's simply no fun to walk around and see hundreds of things you wish you could get in some alternative life where someone else pays your credit card bill.
My trip to the mall also reminded me of how irritated I get every year when Thanksgiving is always so blatantly bypassed in favor of REALLY early Christmas decorating by stores everywhere in an attempt to rev people up into a spending frenzy. Around our city this year the Christmas decorating all seems to have started much earlier than in previous years--maybe as an attempt to get people to forget the tough economic times we are living in and encourage them to spend more; or maybe people just need a little more holiday cheer a little earlier than usual.
Most people would agree that these days we rush around too much, always looking ahead to the next big thing, always racing against the clock to finish a million different things--I'm guilty of this constantly. And while I love Christmas, I also love Thanksgiving. I love that there's a holiday focused on family togetherness, and on being grateful for what we have, while at the same time thinking about how to help others who are less fortunate. I love the Thanksgiving dishes I make each year (don't knock a vegetarian Thanksgiving until you've tried it--more on that next week), and how cozy my house smells and sounds on Thanksgiving morning, with the pies baking in the oven, and maybe a fire in the fireplace if it's cold enough, and my happy kids racing around the house. But mostly I always hope each year that the whole world will stop for even just one day, take some deep breaths, and gather their loved ones close.