Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The 'holidays' are here

It took me a while to work out that when Americans talk about 'the holidays' they don't just mean Christmas and Hannukah, lumped together in a politically correct way.

No, 'the holidays' very much means Thanksgiving too, so with that coming up next week, it seems that we are now very much in 'holiday' season. (For instance, the Book Club I belong to is devoting one session in early December to some 'lighter' reads - 'holiday' reading. I was wondering why this was happening pre-Christmas, when it occurred to me that people actually have more time off at Thanksgiving than Christmas itself - and probably spend more time preparing the Thanksgiving turkey than the Christmas day lunch).

Bill Bryson says in Notes from a Big Country that Thanksgiving is his favourite US holiday, because there's no present-buying, just lots of food and drink, and I partly agree - but at the same time, the relative lack of build-up means it seems to creep up rather unexpectedly on me. As an expat, there you are, suddenly, in a perfectly ordinary November week, with several 'holiday' days on your hands and not very much to do. Apart from Thanksgiving day itself, when we are cooking a turkey for the European friends who entertained us last year, we have no plans, and yet the boys have three days off school for Thanksgiving recess (and a conveniently scheduled 'early closing' the previous day, apparently to practise emergency drills).

I have mentioned before how the Friday between Thanksgiving (always a Thursday) and the weekend is known as Black Friday, and how, although it is not officially a public holiday, most Americans take a day off (ostensibly to do their Christmas shopping, but quite probably because they are too full of turkey to move). However, The Doctor will be stoically at work on the Friday, leaving me to entertain the two boys on a chilly November day when many people are out of town or in 'holiday' mode. Luckily our local library puts on a special 'holiday show' for kids, so I have already made damn sure we have tickets.

The proximity of Thanksgiving to Christmas also means that the whole 'holiday' consumption theme has already kicked off, big-time. If Christmas shopping traditionally gets going on Black Friday, the media here agrees that this year it seems to have started two weeks earlier. Every day the school sends home countless forms to fill in and order gifts through the PTA. I spent this morning at the bus stop discussing gifts for teachers (a BIG deal here) with my neighbour, something that I would normally think about at the last minute once I have sorted out present-buying for all the family.

Meanwhile TV ads are all about entertaining for the 'holidays' - and other holiday-related themes. (One of my favourites is two guys in suits solemnly telling us about an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous that will guarantee you will be 'sober by the holidays'. Seeing as Thanksgiving is next week, this seems a tad optimistic).

So, desite feeling as if autumn is barely over (the Fall colours are still gorgeous and people still have their Halloween decorations out), it looks as though I'm going to have to jolly myself into 'holiday' mood very soon. As for being 'thankful' - the over-riding theme of Thanksgiving - well, I'm thankful that there are still five and half weeks before Christmas.....

12 comments:

Home Office Mum said...

We're having a Thanksgiving dinner here (on the Saturday following the actual day) - practice for our possible move, which incidentally if it happens will probably only happen in time for the start of the next school year. Talk about living in limbo for ages.

But just wanted to say that bar3 people, I have done all my Christmas shopping. Hoorah! Bring on the holidays

Muddling Along Mummy said...

I miss not working with Americans - I've had an American boss for most of the last 5 years and the ONLY day I could guarantee being able to slope off early was Thanksgiving - miss it this year!

Have a great holiday!

Expat mum said...

We've got the Monday after Thxgiving off too - some school thing. And no plans whatsoever. People are aghast when I say that I'm not sure what we're doing. I'm sure it counts as child neglect in some states.

MarmiteFluff said...

What is this trend of putting the Christmas decs up before TG? I'm sure it didn't happen a few years ago -- TG was an invisible fence between Fall and Christmas. Now it's just a free-for-all as soon as the Halloween candy's been reduced to half price. Last year, our local Nordstrom put a sign in their window saying that *they* weren't going to put up the holiday decorations until after Thanksgiving. And quite right too. It's just a shame they feel they have to justify themselves. Wonder if they'll stick to their guns again this year.

Mwa said...

Only 5 1/2??? I'd better get cracking.

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

Get ready for even more junk mail than normal with the holiday season in full gear already! Enjoy your Thanksgiving - planning to make the Doctor a turkey for when he gets off work?!

nappy valley girl said...

HomeofficeMum - You are way too organised!

Muddling Along - I once worked for an American magazine from London, and I remember the same thing!

Expat Mum - we don't have Monday off but we have the Weds before off, and school finishes early on Tues. Which, as a friend pointed out to me, really does not help when people are trying to organise their Thanksgiving feast!

Marmite Fluff - yes, I think Macy's are unveiling their windows this week. Far too early.

Mwa - yes, it's not much when you have six nephews and nieces to buy for, as well as your own family, like I do....

Tanya - we're having a turkey on the Thursday, so I'm sure we'll be living off it for weeks....

Nota Bene said...

So glad I don't have to worry about gifts and holiday seasons for anothe five weeks...

Metropolitan Mum said...

Gosh, how I envy you, again!! I just love the American way of celebratind 'a' holiday.

Grit said...

because there are quite a few usa expats in our groups here in hk, thanksgiving is bigger in our consciousness this year than it has ever been before.

i am also learning more about it. like, do not ask, 'do you cook something other than turkey?'

geekymummy said...

"happy holidays!"
Have you been presented with a picture of your Childs handprints turned into turkeys yet?
We have quite embraced Thanksgiving, having been here so long, though since I dont eat meat we will have our traditional roasted salmon!

Calif Lorna said...

We got the handprints turned into turkeys last year!

I've adopted the Happy Holidays finally. At first I felt resentful that I couldn't wish people Merry Christmas but have decided I need to be more respectful of the culture here.

I love Thanksgiving, it feels like such a family time instead of pressure on all the presents. I also love all the pumpkins and fall decorations. It's a wonderful time of the year.