Samain Thanksgiving Moon
Black Friday. Should be a dark observance like so-called Good Friday. But, no. It’s a flood the needy capitalists with your money by pretending to save money on deals that still allow them make even more money sorta day. I mean, geez, I guess it is a dark observance after all. Yeah. Black Friday.
Anyhow today’s transparent Saturday. On this day we pretend we need our money more than the president of Best Buy or Target or Walmart or Mar-a-Lago. Yes, it’s don’t spend it, save it Saturday. Enjoy.
Black Friday does catch a nuance about holidays though. When, after the build up, the preparations, the all morning cooking or present wrapping or driving to grandma’s, the big day finally arrives, and ends. Just like that. Imagine buying a paper turkey today to hang on your front door. Ewww. Right? The day after the holiday is its shadow. In the instance of Black Friday it shifts all those thank-you’s said round the table to the board rooms of hand-wringing, slightly leering, folks discussing profit margins and the effectiveness of neuroscience based social media advertising. No, that’s not a nightmare, it’s real.
Holidays are key inflection points in a year. They encourage us, remind us to go deep, to re-member, to re-joice, to re-construct, even re-imagine historical or mythological or religious or tribal events that hold deep significance. In some instances, like Pesach, Easter, Hungry Ghost, Yom Kippur, Eid, they commemorate matters so important, so resonant that we call them Holy. On Holy Days we often take the rituals out of the hands of the priests, the rabbis, the elders and plunge into them on our own. Yes, that means that the rituals can be trivialized, but more often it means that we for a time, a day, a short season, reorient our daily life toward such fundamental notions as thanksgiving, liberation, resurrection, ancestral influence, atonement, sacrifice.
We rise from the tomb. Break out of captivity. Care for the memories of our dead. Do penance and reorient, return to our best selves. Celebrate a month of fasting and giving.
The let down, then. A return to, as the Catholics call it, ordinary time. Waking as from a dream. Taking these huge ideas and stuffing back them into the shirts and pants and shoes of daily life. Like the air going out of a tire. The gift-giving is over. Boxing Day remains.
I suppose you could choose to fill that moment when the ideal and the real merge again with numbing. Really, I know you can. Liquor. Gorging. TV. Shopping sprees. Arguments.
What if, though, we chose to take those days after Christmas, after New Years, after dia de los muertos, and spent some time, maybe 15 minutes, maybe an hour, maybe all day, to meditate, reflect, to intentionally incorporate the idea of Beltane into our life, searching for those places where we can nurture the seedlings. Or how our commitment to family might be strengthened. Can we find a spot in our days for atonement and return to our best selves? What if we said no to Black Friday and instead decided on a practice that would encourage gratitude. Holy Days give us the chance to course correct, to remember that our lives are anything but ordinary, that they are brief, but luminous. They can teach us if we let them.