Posts tagged with: holidays

Theresa_May_UK_Home_Office

Although Americans have lost the notion altogether, British tradition still remembers that Christmas is a season that begins, rather than ends, on December 25. In addition to Christmas, many businesses close their doors on December 26 in observance of Boxing Day. Over the years, the holiday has also become the UK’s third-largest shopping day, generating £3.74 billion last year.

Since shoppers need workers to serve them, more retailers have remained open each year. This spurred more than 200,000 Brits to sign a petition asking the government to force shop-owners to close that day, so that retail workers can enjoy “some decent family time to relax and enjoy the festivities like everyone else.”

Prime Minister Theresa May responded that British businesses, like the post-Brexit UK, are free to remain open for business. “We do not believe it is for central government to tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers,” the administration said. “Therefore, we are not proposing to ban shops from opening on Boxing Day.”

Her decision begins with the right procedural point by reining in central government. While government offices closed, it is not her place to dictate that policy to businesses of varying sizes and facing differing local circumstances (and financial outlooks). There are also other considerations.

Some people cannot be given the holiday – or any holiday – off because of the nature of their work allows no breaks. Aside from emergency and medical personnel, convenience store clerks, security guards, and a host of other professions would be structurally excluded from any government proclamation.

But what about the rest of the people? Was her decision a bane or a boon for workers? Is this humbug or helpful?

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In the latest video blog from For the Life of the World, Evan Koons offers Christmas greetings and a few timely reminders with his usual dose of humor.

“He made himself nothing to be with us.”

Indeed, by entering the Earth in human form, nay, in infant human form, born to the house of a carpenter, Jesus provides a striking example of the order of Christian service — of the truth and the life, yes, but also of the way. (more…)

Blog author: eschansberg
Thursday, November 27, 2008
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In sports, there is a debate (between interesting and inane) about the meaning of a “Most Valuable Player” award: is it the best “individual” player (often measured in terms of a handful of statistics) or the player who is most valuable to his team (without that player, the team would not be nearly as good)?

The same could be said for holidays. For Christians, the “greatest” holidays are Christmas, Good Friday, and especially, Easter. But I’d argue that Thanksgiving is still the “best” holiday.

Christmas has a lot of cultural and consumerist baggage. Good Friday is vital but not the end of the story. And Easter gets overlooked easily– and in any case, doesn’t have an easy or appropriate way to celebrate it.

But Thanksgiving– at least in its ideal form– is awesome. It’s a time for extended family to gather and reflect, a four-day weekend which begins with gratitude and ends with worship, a grand opportunity to enjoy the fruit of the earth in combination with creative human preparation, and most of all, a time to enjoy God’s blessings and “give thanks”.

In this sense, Thanksgiving is like every other great holiday. It is meant to be a special celebration of that which we should celebrate every day. From Valentines Day to Mothers Day, from Veterans Day to July 4th, we set aside certain days for explicit celebration. But at the same time, the “event” is meant to be a continuous “lifestyle”– to celebrate, remember, or observe each of these every day of our lives. In this sense, all holidays are perhaps best understood through their etymology– as “holy days”– special but emblematic.

Speaking of etymology, I’m not certain that the words “grace” and “gratitude” are related. (A quick flip through my Websters does not resolve the question.) But they are certainly related conceptually. One angle on the Gospel is that Christians are grateful for God’s offer of grace and are then drawn to feeling and expressing graciousness in every aspect of their lives.

Thanksgiving allows Christians to celebrate God’s grace in its many forms– from the “common grace” extended to all to the providential graces of history through God’s sovereignty, from the universal grace available to all in Jesus Christ to the specific graces afforded to each of us in our daily lives.

In a sense, then, Thanksgiving allows us to celebrate Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter in one fell swoop. If so, maybe Thanksgiving is both the best and the greatest holiday of them all.