The cupola of St. Peter's Basilica and the top of the Vatican Christmas tree are seen following a lighting ceremony in St. Peter's Square Dec. 13. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (Dec. 13, 2013) See POPE-TREE Dec. 13, 2013.

These days of our lives

‘Tis the season!  The countdown to Christmas has begun, with a string of consecutive days to which we’ve given new names – and hashtags!  All except the middle one.

#Thanksgiving – it needs no reference to the day of the week.  It’s always the fourth Thursday of November.  Legally, that designation comes by way of presidential proclamation, the first of which was issued in 1789.  But the NFL schedule assures us that it will always be so.  And the transportation industry counts on it.

#BlackFriday – despite its anticipation the day before, the day after Thanksgiving gets its name from the year’s heaviest amount of retail shopping, which turned store accounts from the red of debt to the black of profit.  Purportedly, the name originated here in Philadelphia to describe the massive traffic jams, both personal and vehicular, that accompanied all that shopping.  Nowadays it is feted by sleeping out near  the doors that will open early with special sales.  It even has its own “official” website!

#SmallBusinessSaturday – this one arose more recently (2010), thanks to the American Express card.  In response to the corporate supersizing of Black Friday, the Saturday focus turns to smaller businesses, especially local establishments in one’s hometown.  It celebrates the main street feel and neighborly character of the holiday season.  Of course, all credit cards are accepted.

#CyberMonday – more than a response to retail demophobia (fear of crowds), this day capitalizes on the increasing popularity of online shopping.  Fighting the fatigue brought on by Friday and Saturday, you can go anywhere on the Internet without leaving home.  On this day the deals come to you.  Santa will, too, on sleighs driven by UPS and FedEx.

#GivingTuesday – this one reminds us not to forget those in need who won’t get wrapped presents.  It’s a call to donate to charities, with a variety of non-profits counting on the end-of-year gifts.  If you are overstuffed from the commercialization of the preceding days, this one brings relief, through the practice of philanthropy in the true spirit of the season.

But what about the day skipped amid this string of names?

It’s a day of thanksgiving, with little travel needed.  There are no special sales, because the gifts are free.  It’s celebrated in small towns with neighborly folks all around.  It has no online access (yet!), but its deals transcend time and space.  And on it we share generously with anyone in need through gifts of unmatched value.

Maybe it doesn’t need a new name – just greater recognition and appreciation in our lives.  For on this day, we can find the fulfillment of all that the season stands for.

It’s called SUNDAY.

And you’re invited to participate in its festivities not only this weekend, but all throughout the year.

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