thanksgiving is about gratitude

Usually around this time of year, I post my annual rant about the commercialization of the holidays, and how every year the advertisements for Christmas, in particular, come earlier and earlier. Despite that this year I have seen TV commercials for Christmas shopping at least three weeks prior to Halloween (a certain store whose logo is a red and white bulls-eye, to name names without actually naming names), and I fear that with Thanksgiving falling as early as it can (November 22), it will be all out war this holiday season – I want to focus on the true heart of the matter, and what really is at stake. Basically, I want to save Thanksgiving.

It has probably been only in the last decade or so that Black Friday (aka the day after Thanksgiving in the US, and the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season) has tried to creep into Thanksgiving’s territory. Major retailers started to lure holiday shoppers into their stores earlier and earlier. It started with 7am wake up calls. And then someone said let’s beat them by an hour and open our doors at 6. And when that wasn’t early enough, someone upped the ante to 5 o’clock in the morning! Does anyone really want to shop at 5 o’clock in the morning?! That’s what they thought too, and so they said – let’s open on Thanksgiving night!!

So now you will find people literally camped out in the cold, skipping Thanksgiving altogether, in the name of getting a good deal on a 100-inch flat screen TV or the newest X-box or the latest pair of shoes being touted by some basketball star. This is beyond wrong for so many reasons, and it must stop.

Perhaps we should all be forced to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on Thanksgiving Eve to be reminded of exactly why it is bad news when two holidays collide! I’ll give you a hint if you have forgotten – it doesn’t end well. Remember all the creepy presents?

As I write this on election eve, I am  surprised that there wasn’t more debate about family values – and I don’t mean how gay marriage will ruin society or saving Big Bird. Not for anything, but the breakdown of the family is why so many people find themselves unable to turn things around when untoward events happen.

However you define family, ultimately they are your safety net. And for better or worse, holiday gatherings, are probably one of the best places to check in and let people know what is really going on in your life. This is your chance to ask for guidance or offer your support if needed.

Sure, family can be annoying and obnoxious at times, but without them, it can be very difficult to get through the hard times. And unfortunately most of us don’t realize that until it is too late.

Some of us forget that not everyone has family nearby, or just family. Many also have family that are not reliable or dependable, let alone able to help in a crisis. Some have family members that will suck them into their own crisis, instead of trying to help (think addicts and the mentally ill). What I am trying to say is that before you agree to send Dear Old Dad into that line of shoppers on Thanksgiving – even if you promise to bring him a slice of his favorite pecan pie – think about what is really more important.

Yes, a new TV might be nice, but how many times do you really have left to sit and share a holiday meal together? Even if everything is going great in your life, what would happen if you lost your job or your home or your spouse? Who would you call upon learning that your husband was on his way to the hospital in an ambulance? Who would get you if your car broke down or bring food to you if you were sick? Who would just hold you in her arms and tell you it will be okay? These are things we don’t like to think about, and even take for granted, but trust me when I say not everyone has someone that they could call in these situations. And if you do, you should be counting your blessings, not fighting a crowd for the hot toy.

The one thing I love about Thanksgiving most of all is that it hasn’t been over-commercialized. Beyond the turkey and the pumpkin pie, Hallmark really hasn’t taken hold. It really is a day in which we set aside to be thankful for all that we have. The message of the day is really that simple. Sure, it may be awkward being asked to write it down or go around the table and say it, but as Americans, especially, we still have so much to be thankful for every day.

So please, if you are lucky enough to have a family that loves you, celebrate with them. If you know someone who isn’t as blessed, or who cannot be with their family, invite them to join you at your table. No one should have to spend Thanksgiving alone, and definitely not in line in the cold in front of a big box store. No one. That isn’t in the spirit of the holiday at all. Please don’t let things you want, take away what you really need.

 

on the night stand :: Panorama City

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