It's been fashionable for some time for all of us to complain about how early the Christmas displays seem to show up at the stores, about how Santa arrives at the malls before Thanksgiving does and about the creep of Black Friday hours and sales that seem to start earlier and earlier each year.
We get it.
Christmas may be a state of mind that has in some ways become as secular as it is religious, but at its core it's still a sacred holiday, and to over-commercialize it is to demean it.
Yes, we not only get it, but we've complained along with everybody else.
But before we get too carried away in our complaining, let's take a moment this Black Friday to stop and think about what it is we're really saying when we complain.
The holiday season, almost all of us will agree, is the most magical time of year.
It's the time of year when spirits climb, when our hearts are generous toward others, when children's imaginations soar, when people smile at one another, when families bond, when our spiritual consciousnesses are rekindled.
It is a joyous time of year.
Why wouldn't we want to extend that?
Why wouldn't we want the holiday spirit to last as long as possible?
Why in the world would we want to restrict that spirit to four or five weeks?
No question, excess is unhealthy and should be avoided. There's a difference between the giving spirit and a giving addiction, between the joy of the holidays and the self-induced stress of the holidays.
We'd all do well to remind ourselves of that and to approach the holidays as well as our lives with a sense of balance.
But make no apologies for holiday shopping. Enjoy it, bask in it. It's part of the experience of living. It's fun. it's creative. And fundamentally, it's altruistic.
Doesn't hurt that it helps the economy too. Nationally and locally, it's a big part of what keeps the economy humming and a lot of people as well as companies depend on a successful Christmas season.
Today's is the traditional start of a season that really should have no beginning or end, but really should exist year round -- a season of joy, love and giving.
Embrace that today, whether you're out among the crowds or secluded in the warmth of your home. Yes, celebrate that today.
The holiday season has begun.
Welcome to the most wondrous time of year.