26 November 2013

Let's Talk About Shopping on Thanksgiving.

All over my Facebook feed, big orange bulls eyes are cropping up everywhere to signify people's disdain for Black Thursday becoming the new Black Friday. And I totally get it. The mad rush to buy buy buy and spend spend spend can get pretty nauseating, especially during hard financial times. We have enough stuff in our closets, crap in our garage, things in our drawers and junk lying about. Enough is enough, right? The holidays shouldn't be about going into debt to buy people a bunch of things they don't need. It should be about togetherness, and generosity, spending time with the people you love, and lighting up the darkness of winter together. Being grateful for what we have and for each other. Good food, good wine, good music, good times. 

But, (you knew a "but" was coming), I think this whole pledge not to shop so people can be with their family thing is a bit misguided. 

First of all, there are plenty of jobs that have always been running on Thanksgiving. Hospitals, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, the list goes on. Why are Target employees suddenly above it all? 

Second, it might not have occurred to many of you, but not everyone has a family table to go to. And some people are fine with that. They like the holiday money and having something to do and friends to talk to on what would otherwise be a lonely day with a microwaved meal in front of the TV, or a forced "togetherness" with a family they'd rather not be together with.  

Third, come on. Everyone is up on their high horse acting like Thanksgiving is a sacred day. Honestly, besides a little "Grace" before the meal, if that's your thing, how grateful is everyone, really? Are our heads bowed? Are we savoring our bounty? Ruminating, with each bite, on what a wonderful life we have? Not really. In most families, half is involved in some knock-down, drag-out political debate, a quarter is glued to the game on TV, the womenfolk are too busy cooking and bustling to do much besides materialize in the conversation every twenty minutes, chardonnay in hand, and disappear back into the kitchen. The teenagers show up, eat, check their phones until its time to leave and then do so. And all we are thinking is, "Why oh why did I have to eat that last slice of pie?" Don't get me wrong, we all love each other and have a good time, but it's not the be-all end-all of days. It's a skosh more "gluttonous" than "grateful" if we were to be truly honest with ourselves. (And if you're not living the grateful, humble, family-centered life otherwise, this pledge is a bit empty. "I pledge to go to a dinner I already have to go to and I don't really have anything else going on, nor particularly want to shop..." )

So here's my opinion. If you want to shop on Thanksgiving, go ahead. Some people really enjoy the hunt and the chaos of the stores. It's a sport. To them, I say have fun. If you don't, then by all means, don't shop. Your sentiment is noble, but everyone's lives are different. 

If you believe in family, don't wait and put all the pressure on one or two days in November and December. Be with your family. Spend time with them throughout the year. If you are disgusted by consumerism, don't buy tons of presents. Period. It doesn't matter what "day" you boycott if you're spending away every other day. If you believe everyone should be comforted on holidays, go volunteer at a soup kitchen or a shelter. Deliver a basket of goodies to your local police or firemen on Thanksgiving. But don't assume that because people go on with their lives when you think they should celebrate your way, that it is wrong or evil. You don't know where they're coming from. The whole country can't shut down to force everyone to chew on a turkey with family members because you think that's the way it should be.

We just moved over 1200 miles from our family this year. We are taking our kids to see a movie on Thanksgiving. It's such a popular thing to do, in fact, that we had to pre-order our tickets by the seat. Guess in this family-oriented, religious community, working on Thanksgiving is a-ok. 

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