Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving
November 27, 2007
On the way home from a stress-free holiday at my sister’s house, my wife and I noticed about 20 people lined up outside a closed Best Buy, standing in the bitter cold, waiting almost half a day to possibly save $50 on an MP3 player or a couple hundred bucks on a TV they don’t need. Why? All in the name of Christmas. That’s when it hit me – we should all be truly thankful for Thanksgiving Day itself.
Many people haven’t realized it yet, but Thanksgiving is everything we envision Christmas being but ultimately failing to achieve. Religion aside, Thanksgiving is probably what Christmas (or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) used to be like before the days of Black Friday, “doorbuster savings,” and enough holiday lights on a single house to pave the Three Wise Men’s entire journey. Thanksgiving is still about family, friends, and getting together for a nice meal while taking the time to appreciate what we have been given in life. Just about anyone who can afford a box of Stove Top Stuffing can enjoy Thanksgiving without the added pressures and stress of the winter holidays.
Some people still remember the meaning of Christmas, but for too many of us it has become a month-long battle of shopping, decorating, baking, and the always awkward dance of gift reciprocation. Are they going to have something for us? Should we bring something just in case? We need to spend how much?! The back and forth goes on and on until soon, so as not to upset anyone you have ever come in contact with, you simply buy a gift for the entire country.
Christmas wasn’t supposed to be about one-upsmanship or separating the rich from the poor by the types of gifts given, but things are quickly heading in that direction. Luckily, my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving (followed closely by Independence Day), has avoided the bright lights and credit card swiping associated with so many other holidays. Please help keep it that way by promising to yourself NEVER to give a gift on Thanksgiving. A side dish for the host or even a bottle of wine is acceptable, but nothing that can’t be consumed during the meal itself.
As for Christmas, be proactive to help steer it in the right direction. Make a gift or two this year. Give a couple fewer gifts and use that money to take someone out to dinner – it will be more appreciated. Send a hand written letter to someone. Go to mass to help remember why all the houses are decorated. Finally, spend a little more time with friends and family and a little less time shopping for them. In the end, they will be much more thankful. You know, just like at Thanksgiving.