Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

“Happy Holidays” has long been our social mantra, encompassing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, and even the fictional Festivus.  I’m sure there are other holidays, both religious and secular, in the mix as well.  My upbringing focuses on Christmas, and since I am not intimately familiar with any of the other celebrations listed here, I would not dare to write about them lest I say anything to minimize their importance; it’s not a matter of political correctness, but rather a respect for that which matters to someone else.

Best-Christmas-Trees-2[1]That being said,  all of us at Horizon Landscape Company share the same wish for our clients, vendors and readers – that the peace, love, hope and joy of Christmas surrounds you, and that the coming year brings you good health and happiness.  It doesn’t matter what your gender or race are, what religion you ascribe to, or your political persuasion – the sentiment is the same.  You are important to us, we thank you for your trust in us, and we wish only good things for you.

Just like the other holidays celebrated at this time of year, Christmas is filled with wonderful traditions, the first and most important being the celebration of the birth of Christ.  Christians around the world prepare for Christmas during the season of Advent.  A wreath with four candles representing peace, love, hope and joy is lit on each of the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day.  The candles traditionally are purple with a pink candle for the third week, and a white candle sits in the center of the wreath to be lit on Christmas Day, or as is the tradition in my church, at the Christmas Eve candlelight service.  Some of the most beautiful and enduring classical music ever written has been composed for the Christmas season – I’m sure most of you are familiar with Handel’s Messiah and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, to name a few.  There are a myriad of Christmas traditions from all over the world, and most of our American traditions come from England, Germany and the Netherlands.

Since becoming a national American holiday in 1870, Christmas has slowly but surely morphed from being a mainly religious holiday into the commercialized retail-feeding beast we know today.  Christmas lights, garlands and trees hit the stores earlier than ever this year – I caught a glimpse of my first retail display of decorations the week before Halloween at my local Walgreen’s store.  Holiday car commercials were shown on TV the week before Thanksgiving, and Christmas music crept onto the airwaves shortly after.  Retailers have been fighting each other to get the jump on the season in the hopes of getting our attention (and our sales dollars) first.  At this rate, the concept of Christmas in July may come sooner than we think.

In a season where commercialism seems to reign supreme, one of the most impressive trends this Christmas has been the Secret Santas that have appeared in K-Mart stores throughout the country, paying off the lay-away charges of unsuspecting people.  I’m still not clear as to how the trend started – I’ve heard differing stories from various news agencies – but it was such a beautiful gesture upon the part of the person who did.  And now the word is spreading, and Secret Santas are popping up in K-Marts all over the country, targeting lay-away accounts with toys on hold so that the children of struggling families will feel the joy of Christmas morning.  In a culture where most of our daily news is negative, this kind of generosity renews my faith in the human race.

As I sit here writing and listening to Christmas carols on my iPod (yes, I’m guilty of commercialism myself), I am grateful for the blessings that both I personally and Horizon Landscape Company have received over the past years, and hope that all of our clients, vendors and readers will be blessed in 2012.  May you and those you love have a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.  And to my husband Ed, you’ve seen all those commercials too, so I’ll take a red bow on my new Lincoln……………….