The Shadow of Thankfulness

Thankfulness is in the air.  All around us we see people making month long lists and planning “thankfulness” centerpieces.  Many of us will gather around a ridiculous amount of food in a few days and between mouthfuls we’ll say that we’re thankful for this and that.  Then we’ll wander away from the table, bellies full and eyelids drooping.

Don’t get me wrong, dear reader, I love Thanksgiving.  I love that is a major holiday without presents and I kind of love that it gets passed over on the store shelves.  I love planning and preparing activities and food.  I love the simple traditions before a busy holiday season.

But, there is a shadow that lurks behind Thanksgiving Day.  Something that taints the spirit of the entire day.  It is not the history behind the holiday – it is easy to dismiss the past of a holiday created during a period of white-washed history and save the good the left over.  No, it is not that which spoils the holiday.  It is not even the day itself, it is the day after.  The shadow of Thanksgiving; the black day.  Black Friday.

There are those of you now rolling your eyes at my melodrama.  There are those of you getting ready to type out a hasty “Now listen here young lady.”  There are probably a few you who are heating up the tar and finding your bag of feathers, but hear me out.

On Thursday we spend the day feasting and celebrating; we tell each other that we are thankful for the food on our plates, the clothes on our backs and the roof over our head.  We say we are thankful for friends and family and the time spent with each other.  Then so many of us go to bed that night full of Thankfulness only to wake up the next morning and shoot Thankfulness in the knee caps.  We leave Thankfulness stuttering in the driveway as we pull away in the pitch black morning to prove that we aren’t very thankful at all; we don’t have all we could possibly need, in fact we need more of what we don’t have and we prefer it imported, shoddily made and cheap.

Black Friday has become an entity in and of itself.  It’s a huge monster that announces itself months in advance.  We start planning our shopping routes before we know if Thanksgiving will be at Aunt Mary’s or Grandma’s this year.  We drag the young and old out of the warm beds that yesterday we were so thankful to provide.  We create mass hysteria that can no longer be seen as naive and innocent; it is harmful and even deadly.  We encourage and justify the “creep”; infringing on others day of thankfulness just so we can get that perfect deal.

Most of you already, at the point in the season, know what your plans for Friday will be and I know there is little I can do to sway you.  But I hope, if nothing else, I can encourage you to consider a few things.  I hope you will consider where the money you spend will be sent.  I hope you will consider the conditions of the people who make the products and ring up the sales.  I hope you will consider alternate times and places in which to spend your money. I hope you will consider those whose choice on Thanksgiving night is to go to work or loose their job.  I hope you will consider the safety of those around you.  I hope you will consider the message it sends to those dear to you.

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In closing, my friends, I just want to say a few things.  I am not against shopping.  In fact, I’m quite fond of it.  I am not fond of a non-tradition that is continually bringing out the worst in our population.  I’m not fond of that fact that many retailers are beginning to “creep” into the actual Thanksgiving Day.  I’m not fond of how the big box stores know you’re coming and that you’re probably cold and sleep deprived and stuff their aisles with cheap product that has little to no real use because it will look good at four o’clock in the morning and it is because of this we’ll be staying home on Friday.

I encourage you to do the same.  Watch more movies, read a book, snuggle, roughhouse, eat more leftovers and give yourself one more day to truly embody the words “I am Thankful.”

15 thoughts on “The Shadow of Thankfulness

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  1. LOVE this! My thoughts exactly! I just heard about how Target is planning on opening at 8 or 9pm on Thanksgiving, and I couldn't be more disgusted with this decision.

    After working 5 years in retail myself (and Black Friday every one), I really could go without it for the rest of my life. More than that though, it really cheapens the feeling of the holiday, just like you said.

    I have so many friends, family, and coworkers who are going shopping this Black Friday. I try to explain it to them, but the message just doesn't seem to get across. If you sit at the table on Thanksgiving, going around and sharing how thankful you are for everything you've been given, how can you possibly go out shopping the next day?

    Thank you for posting this! It's such an important point that most people seem to gloss over, in favor of buying that new TV or more clothes they really don't need!

    Hannah
    http://www.dualingmoms.com

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  2. so, i am not defending “black friday” at all, i haven't done black friday shopping… in, gosh, i don't know 10 or 15 years. i think it is just ridiculous, killing each other over elmo dolls or some gaming system all after the day we say we are most thankful. BUT it isn't like most people are buying for themselves, they are buying for friends and family. and there is the kicker, to me at least, we have this horrible desire to show our love with things. we feel that people won't think we love them enough if we don't max out the credit cards, or get up at 2 am to battle the other crazy shopper to get our loved ones that “one special thing”. and i think that is what is wrong here, that so many feel that stuff equals love. it is sad really.
    this is our first year where all gifts have to be handmade, thrifted or at least bought from a local artist/crafts person. (ok i did go on etsy for a couple gifts, but i love supporting small scale crafts people). i have to admit as it gets closer and closer Christmas, I am starting to worry. did we make the right choice? what will others say? will the kids know we love them with out all the flashy gadgets? i mean i have always thought we were sort of low key, but this is really bringing it down about 50 notches for us. which i love, BUT it also freaks me out. lol so i can see where people who haven't spent at least a decade slowly but surely simplifying this time of year, still feel this drive to spend more then they have on those they love to SHOW them in material ways that they are loved. when, i think, really most all of us would feel more loved with time with our loved ones where everyone is calm, happy and at peace.
    enjoy your day of thanks. 🙂

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  3. I agree! Certainly we as Americans have enough stuff and the frenzy created by Black Friday endangers people's safety and contributes to mob mentality. I don' understand it really, is it really, really necessary to save 25%, 35% or 40% off? On stuff???? I avoid it like the plague. Since all the family will be away this Thanksgiving, Hubby and I are going on a road trip and doing some hiking and much earned “me” time together!

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  4. I've often tried to think of it in a similar way – at least they're buying for others – and then I worked a Black Friday in a big box department store and saw this not to be very true. While some folks were getting toys for kids or trying to do all their shopping at once the majority of what I saw was for the person doing the shopping. Then I would see people standing around carts of stuff musing about who would be getting what random gift they'd picked up – the lack of thought was rather astounding – “oh yeah bob probably has one like it, but what they hey” or “grandma will like this cause she likes snowmen”, etc. I guess I'm a bit of a black friday cynic.

    Last year all of my sons Christmas presents (except for a few things in his stocking) were thrifted. I was a little worried about what my relatives might think, but at the end of the day no one seemed care. =)

    I can't wait to here about how your low key holiday turns out!

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  5. This Friday we will be smoking a turkey for our own little Thanksgiving, in between big family Thanksgivings on Thursday and Saturday. I have never participated in Black Friday, have no desire to do so, and think the whole concept is atrocious. Wonderful post!

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  6. oh my. that is depressing. so strange how “we” try and fill a void with stuff, it just never works.
    actually after much thought i am feeling really good about our choice to simply even more. i know it will be amazing!

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  7. So true Molly! Even though we don't celebrate Thanksgiving today and have such a crazy Black Friday, a similar phenomenon happens on Boxing Day, or the day after Christmas, here in Canada. I always find it so depressing that people so quickly forsake the holiday and all is should mean regarding family and faith, to simply go and spend more money. It speaks to our shallow consumerism and also our complete lack of any attention span. We can't enjoy more than a day lingering with family, reflecting, or simply relaxing, our society is enslaved and doesn't even know it. It's a symptom of something so much worse than simple shopping.

    And I love shopping, and a great day!

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  8. The day after Christmas is insane stateside too! I can almost justify Boxing Day craziness here by knowing that a lot of folks flood stores to do returns and exchanges before they have to go back to work the next day, or use up gift cards or stock up on Christmas cards for the next year, etc. When I worked retail throughout high school, college, etc. I would always choose the day after Christmas over Black Friday!

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