But over the last few years I’ve increasingly heard sentiments along the lines that, “I’d rather have spontaneous everyday expressions than a scheduled one dictated by greeting card companies with all the pressure and expectations.” I’ve probably heard it most in connection with Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, but there seems to be a growing anti-holiday mentality in general.
Well, we do have to be careful about unrealistic expectations and pressures. Traditions can be wonderful elements in one’s life, but if they add pressure and we feel enslaved to them (“It just wouldn’t be Christmas without….”), then they’ve gone too far. If our schedules are over-flowing and we feel we have to add 50 things to it to celebrate a holiday, then we need to reevaluate. A commemoration of a holiday can be very simple: most years our Valentine’s Days have just involved a card by everyone’s plate at dinner and heart-shaped cupcakes for dessert, though some times we’ve done more.
And it is true stores commercialize just about every holiday. But commercialization in itself isn’t a reason not to celebrate.
I look at it this way: we’re supposed to be thankful every day, but Thanksgiving is a special opportunity to take the time to sit down and take stock of all that we have to be thankful for and to actually spend time giving thanks to the One who has blessed us. It doesn’t mean any less because we gave thanks according to a date on the calendar rather than spontaneously.
In the same way, I love my family every day and I hope I show it at least often enough that they don’t doubt it. But lives get busy and distractions multiply, so it’s nice to have an occasional time to focus on the other people in our lives and let them know how much we love them. It doesn’t mean any less because it’s a “scheduled” time to show love. If my husband gives me a nice card on Valentine’s Day, as he usually does, I’m not going to toss it aside and think, “He just did that because he felt he was ‘supposed’ to.” I am going to enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is: an expression of his love. It’s the same with Mother’s Day: we should honor our parents every day, but there is nothing wrong with a special day set aside to sit down, take stock, remember how much we love them and appreciate them, and let them know that.
Holidays and celebrations can even be a reminder or add a bit of revival to the appreciation we should feel every day. I honestly don’t think about patriotism very much on an everyday basis, but patriotic holidays remind me that I am extremely glad to live in my country and I am extremely thankful for those who make it possible.
One quote in my files attributed to Samuel Johnson says, “The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Saviour, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.”
“What may be done on any day” may be neglected because we don’t often think about it in the course of busy everyday responsibilities.
I’m not saying I think everyone should keep holidays. “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it” (Romans 14:6a).
I’m just saying that a scheduled time for honoring someone or showing appreciation doesn’t negate the everyday expressions and doesn’t mean any less. It’s nice to have both the spontaneous and the scheduled.
(Photo courtesy of the stock.xchng)