November 29, 2013

Black Friday

Thanksgivukkah done right.

Right now, there are people all over the country, waiting in lines in the cold, shuffling from store to store, with fistfuls of coupons and catalogs of advertising circulars crammed in their pockets. Because Thanksgiving ends the moment you can fasten your belt again.

Right now, people are trampling each other, fighting each other, racing against strangers to buy another toy, another juicer, another sweater. Because the perfect Christmas gift is more important than a whole day, free to share the company of people you love.

Truth be told, I've had my holiday shopping finished for over a month (except for one ridiculously hard to shop for person). And not just because Channukah is working on its third day by now. Truth be told, I buy presents for people year round, regardless of how far away their birthday or the next holiday might be. But that's just what works for me- I'm not going to tell you there's a right way to get presents for people, and I have the secrets.

Poppa picnicking with the girls
But I do think there is a wrong way.

I do think that we have a problem with values in this country. And that can be summed up in single day- Black Friday.

We have a holiday in this country, one of only two American holidays. Not memorial days, not days to reflect on the sacrifices of our military members or civilians lost. There are only two days that our country has to celebrate the joys of American life.

The Fourth of July, when we celebrate our independence, and Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, when we allow ourselves the opportunity to feel grateful to the Native Americans who we have systematically oppressed since we landed on these shores. When we gather with our families not because of religious obligation, but because that is what we are truly grateful for.

Thanksgiving is a day when we gather together not to give each other gifts, but to take joy in each others' company. When we feel grateful for all that we have, when we feel thankful for our time together.

But as soon as the whipped cream starts to melt, we set aside those feelings of gratitude, bundle up in our hats and scarves, grab our shopping lists and hit the stores. People die every year, trampled by crowds anxious for yet another Elmo toy, the new skinnier television, a cardigan with the right name on the label.

Aunt Something Funny and nieces around the Menurkey
I understand the impulse. The allure of good bargains is strong, sure.

But it undermines what Thanksgiving is about. Black Friday is a narcotic relapse after a day of remembering that really, you have everything you need.

And maybe worse than that, it undermines the purpose of gift giving come Christmas or Channukah or what-have-you. The point of giving a gift isn't presenting somebody with the most expensive version of something, with the largest something, with the MOST something.

It's about showing somebody that you know them, and you love them, by presenting them with a token of your affection.

The point is to spend money they wouldn't spend on themselves. Does it really matter if you spent ten percent less?

The point is to spend energy they wouldn't spend on themselves. Does anybody really need a nationally designated day for doing it?

And the point of Thanksgiving is to experience gratitude. Not to plot your route for getting the most of more in a few short hours.

New nightgowns
Today I'm sitting by the fire, reading books with my children, eating pumpkin pie blintzes and leftover latkes, nibbling cold green bean casserole and snapping pictures of my kids in their nightgowns. I'm nursing a hot drink and listening to the laughter of the people I love most in the world.

This is what I'm Thankful for.

I think I can dedicate a whole 24 hours to the experience.

Happy Thanksgiving, lovely readers. I am grateful for all of you.

You and your families are in my heart.

1 comment:

  1. Amen!



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