At the risk of sounding a little self-important and holier-than-thou, Daniel, I have to say that I despise holidays for the very reasons you list. There isn't much that is holy about these holy days except maybe, just maybe, a chance to be reminded that this is it, this is our home and we all live here and people everywhere want to be good, to be helpful, to be thankful...but sometimes how to do it is hard to know.
Yesterday I gave a young panhandler outside a convenience store a ten dollar bill. A few weeks ago that would have been a fortune to me, but now I have lots of ten dollar bills. Am I thankful for that? Not really: I earned it with long hours of literally painful work. I subsist these days on tylenol and bengay and bad sandwiches prepared by me in crappy motel rooms before the sun comes up.
I was more thankful when I was like that young panhandler: my hours were my own and I really didn't need money. But as I told him, I was only days away from being homeless like he is: sleeping in the bushes and dodging cops and begging for handouts.
I don't know, brother, I'm almost sixty and I still haven't got it figured out. I know that I will continue to take the tylenol and rub on the bengay and yes, I will keep eating bad sandwiches. And also will I continue to do my Tim Joe Mojo, my magic act of remembering that for a True Pilgrim every day is Thanksgiving and Christmas and I don't need to be reminded by retailers to practice loving-kindness and treat all whom I encounter as a child, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father...because, after all, that is what we all, all of us, are, wouldn't you agree?
I hope the wind blows in your favor today, Daniel.