When schoolchildren are asked what Thanksgiving means, they usually mention food or being thankful. They don’t tend to say, “shopping.”
But Christmas shopping has been in the news for weeks, and it’s only going to get worse. With some stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, the focus shifts to getting a head start on buying gifts, rather than making room for family time.
Getting first in line to buy a reduced price big-screen TV? Grabbing up discounted socks? Are those the defining icons of holiday spirit? And should they be crowding out thoughts of giving thanks?
We can all use a sale, but we can also use a chance to relax with family or friends – and so can the sales clerks.
No question, this country is far from the Norman Rockwell images of big families crowded around the Thanksgiving dinner table, but most of us still mark the occasion by sharing a meal with family or friends and pausing for a few hours from the constant jabbering of the online world.
We all want businesses to thrive, but encouraging mindless spending is far from the best way to boost the economy. And promoting that spending at a time when we could be sharing our time with others makes it worse.
So what, other than greed, does Thanksgiving mean today?
We suggest looking at it as the perfect occasion to take stock in what we have in our lives.
First are the simple things we take for granted – a roof over our heads, food in the refrigerator, clothes in the closet.
Then there’s the freedom to live and travel where we want, to worship or not as we choose, to express our political views publicly – as well as in the privacy of the voting booth.
We may not have the money we think we need or the job we want or the house we desire, but we have a say in how our communities are governed.
And this is a good time to look beyond ourselves, to consider those who don’t have the comforts we take for granted, and to help however we can, with donations or time. Baking cookies? How about taking some to a solitary neighbor? That visit just might make your day – and it could be the first human contact your neighbor has had in a while.
It’s easy to focus on what we don’t have. We suggest using the Thanksgiving holiday to realize all the good that has come our way – and the people who play such important roles in our lives.
Happy Thanksgiving from the staff at Nutfield Publishing.