Have we lost our sense of tradition?

Published 7:27 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2018

walked into a local store the other day and found myself surprised by what was on display.

Several Christmas trees in various shapes, sizes and colors; some with lights installed and some without. Aisles of Yule decorations large and small in various colors and ready to be hung on the tree or the house. Snowmen, Santas and many plush characters and critters. And not too far away, people were buying costumes and candy for trick-or-treat.

This collection of ingredients for holiday cheer was a bit shocking at first. I turned to my wife. “Thanksgiving hasn’t even come,” I told her.

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I have always been a traditionalist when it comes to holidays, and the distinction between Thanksgiving and Christmas has always been a sticking point with me, especially since my birthday falls around Thanksgiving. It took me awhile in my younger years before I realized all the relatives were gathering and feasting to celebrate a holiday and not my birthday. But that’s just a crazy aside.

When I and many others were growing up, there was a clear time frame when Christmas began. You had Halloween, then you got ready for Thanksgiving and the feast. Christmas began the Friday after Thanksgiving preceded by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the annual contest between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions (or the Chicago Bears), whichever AFL teams were playing the same day, and Texas-Texas A&M that night (this in the days before cable and satellite).

There was no Black Friday back then that I can remember; although many stores advertised after Thanksgiving sales, there was not a mad rush of people camping at the store doors Thanksgiving night waiting for “Midnight Madness” at the mall.

Black Friday. That’s another phenomenon I’ve never been able to figure out. I can’t understand why people would want to wait in the cold dark to do battle with someone else over a toy or a TV.

I recall one Thanksgiving my wife, our daughter and I went to spend the Thanksgiving holidays with my family who live north of Atlanta. My sister, who should have a tattoo across her forehead that says “shop ‘til you drop,” insisted we go with her to one of the area malls for an excursion. It was an experience. People were standing at the mall entrance with maps like they were making battle plans. Others with portable radios were talking to some unseen individual about going to a store for some kind of treasure.

I cannot and never will understand the crass commercialization that is behind this custom of ignoring traditions and placing shopping ahead giving thanks for the blessings we have received during the year, even if it is just our continued good health and that our loved ones are healthy and safe, and the transitioning into a season where love and respect of our fellow man is honored.

I think we’ve lost that appreciation for good and the respect for tradition. I want it to return.

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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