In my own personal scramble to find something to write about besides the obligatory Thanksgiving column that’s been done so many times before, I’ve come to realize that being thankful once a year for the things we’re fortunate enough to have, the things we should be thankful for day in and day out, is still too much to ask from some people.
We all know the grumblers, the moaners, the winers and complainers, the “there’s-no-use-in-getting-out-of-bed(ers),” and most of us have come to the grim realization that the attitudes of such people aren’t ever going to change, even for a day like Thanksgiving. You need go only as far as the local grocery store to see someone griping about the price of a turkey and cranberry sauce, and it seems as though the number of these people grow by multitudes every year.
Regardless such a revelation, the image of not being thankful is one we don’t want to embrace because the likeness of a happy Thanksgiving has been permanently indented in our brains by years of Thanksgiving Day parades, movies and television specials like “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” even though many of us, I’m sure, relate more to Neal, the uptight business man in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”
So why is it that some people can’t just swallow their pride, even for one day, to be thankful for what they have? Just how difficult is it (mandatory thankfulness)? Has Thanksgiving lost its meaning? My guess is, no it hasn’t. At least it hasn’t yet. I do, however, feel that our culture is on the fast track to loosing its sense of thankfulness as it slowly gives way for less Thanksgiving and more complaining ... and more Black Friday.
That’s right, Black Friday. My least favorite day of the year; when marketing and commercialism envelop our every being. We see it every year, retailers opening earlier and earlier for what’s become one of the biggest sales days of the year, topped only by the day before Christmas (thanks to the millions of procrastinators like myself). This year, Black Friday has finally spilled over into Thanksgiving Day, with the biggest retailers including Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Sears and Toys ‘R’ Us blazing the trail with sales starting at eight o’clock Thursday night. There are some reports of people already camping out front of retail stores, ensuring that they get their hands on the best deals.
If there’s a better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by trampling others on the same day you claim to be thankful for what you already have, I don’t want to know about it.
There’s a general concern that Black Friday is slowly but surely pushing Thanksgiving completely out of the picture, which might be a relief to the people inconvenienced by the insistent need to give thanks, even though they just did it last year. In a piece written this week by CNN contributer Bob Green, Green asserts that the question is no longer whether or not Black Friday impedes on the Thanksgiving holiday. “The point is that Black Friday has become a holiday of its own.” Truer words have never been spoken. No doubt, Black Friday has grown to be a huge occurrence that millions look forward to, even more so than Thanksgiving itself.
In a sad way, it almost makes sense to mingle the two on the same day. This calls for a new Thanksgiving Day prayer:
“Our Father in Heaven, we give thanks for the pleasure of gathering in this line outside the closest Best Buy. We give thanks for the bargain items we are about to receive, and the hands that helped manufacture them. Father, we give thanks for life, the freedom to enjoy it, and the confidence to outrun the two elderly couples in line ahead of us. We pray for health and strength, as surely we will need it to lift that 50-inch plasma and fight off other weary patrons. These things we ask in the name of all things on sale, Amen.”
This Thanksgiving, I hope people can recognize what really is important, and enjoy the time they have with family and friends. Good food, good company, who could ask anything more?