It’s November and while I am not a big fan of Daylight Savings Time (please kids stop waking up an hour too early!!), the trees becoming completely bare, and the temperatures inevitably becoming cooler by the day; it is the month that brings my all-time favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Sure I am a fan of the all mighty Christmas season but there is just something about Thanksgiving that has always made me happy.
Perhaps it is the simplicity of the meaning behind Thanksgiving, or maybe it’s the way it brings family together, and of course the delicious meal we share with said family is a pretty great part of it too. Whatever it is, I know that Thanksgiving is nothing if it’s not about traditions. Everyone has their own traditions when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving. Ever since my first son was born I have been making cinnamon buns on Thanksgiving morning. My husband builds a fire, and we watch the Macy’s Parade. I love everything about that morning. It is our time to press the pause button on this crazy life and enjoy quality family time.
My family started a tradition years ago of going around the table each year and stating exactly what it is we are thankful for. The table has grown over the years which of course in and of itself is something to be thankful for. Each year there is always someone who makes us cry, makes us laugh, or announces something amazing. Some of us are long winded (raising my hand in the corner) and some of us are short, sweet and to the point. We eat, we laugh, we take pictures that we will look back on one day, and we enjoy being together. We go home full, tired and even more thankful than we were that morning. I feel lucky every year that my 87 year old Grandmother is there. She is able to share in a meal not only with her children and grandchildren but with her great grandchildren as well.
To me Thanksgiving is a day to think about others, to appreciate who you have not what you have. It is a day to reflect on the year behind us and look forward to the one ahead of us. It is a day to tell people you love them. It is a day to surround yourself with those you love, toast to each other and say thank you. It is a day to pull back the reigns, slow down, and enjoy the simple things like sharing a meal with loved ones. SCREEEEECH that’s the sound of big name retailers trying to put a stop to all of that tradition nonsense. I’m sure you are all aware that stores like Kmart, Target, Macy's, and Toys R’ US to name just a few all plan on opening on Thanksgiving. That’s right Thanksgiving, the day you are supposed to be thankful for what you have not go out and buy a bunch of crap you don’t need.
Not only does this anger me but it makes me sad. It makes me sad for the people who are employed by the companies, and it makes me sad that there are people who want to spend Thanksgiving night out at a store shopping. Listen I get the whole Black Friday thing, I don’t do it, but I get it. I know plenty of people who have made Black Friday a tradition with friends and loved ones. I know people who get every ounce of their holiday shopping done on that day and to them I say good for you. You got the sales you wanted and completed your shopping all in one day. I do not however get the need to go out on Thanksgiving Day and shop. I just don’t. If you watch all these big name retailers’ holiday commercials they don’t show consumers rushing off to their stores, no sir. They show families and friends gathered around beautifully decorated tables, eating and laughing. They show children playing a game of football in the yard and the family pet sniffing around the kitchen. They show everything they do not want you to actually be doing. Instead they want you to forget about all the traditions. They want you to tell Grandma you have to leave early. They want you to tell the kids Thanksgiving is over before it has even really begun. They want you to rush through your dinner so that you can be in their store spending your well earned money on a bunch of stuff that you don’t need.
The worst part is retailers treat us like we are a bunch of idiots. It's called Black Friday, not Black part of Thursday into Friday. They want you to believe that they are doing this for YOU. They are opening their stores because they care about YOU. They want YOU to get the best deals. They want YOU to get the hottest items, and if YOU don't come out right then and there well you can just forget it. These items will never be available as long as you live. They create a frenzy. They make people believe they need these things so badly that to stay home seems more ridiculous than heading out on a holiday, in the cold to wait on a line with 1500 people all wanting 1 of 400 televisions available. People fight over these things. They physically fight with one another. In the end the retailer doesn't care about YOU. The retailer cares about their bottom line.
Listen I may not know a whole hell of a lot but here are a few things I know for certain. When your day comes and unfortunately it will come for all of us, no one will stand up at your funeral and say I remember that time he got such a great deal on a flat screen on Thanksgiving. Your obituary will not read survived by two IPods, one laptop, a flat screen and the best darn Blue Ray player this side of the Mississippi. It just won’t. Instead your life’s accomplishments will be listed, your surviving loved ones will be listed and in the end those accomplishments and people are our legacy. We can’t take all the other crap with us and it certainly won’t matter once you’re gone just how good the deal was on any of it.
The traditions you create now are the ones your children will remember for life. I’m not quite sure that you running off in a frenzy to get the best deals are the memories you want to give them. Maybe you eat early, maybe you don’t have a very big family and your Thanksgiving is simple and by 4pm you have given all your thanks so going shopping doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. The thing is it is a big deal. It’s a big deal for the employee who had to skip making the two hour drive with her family to Aunt Betty’s because she wouldn’t make it back on time for work. It’s a big deal to the employee who isn’t sure if his wife will be around next Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to the boy who is sitting home wishing his dad could have told stories by the fire like he did the year before. It’s a big deal, a much bigger deal than the one you are getting on your big ticket item.
You see there are so many better things to do on Thanksgiving night than shop. You could take your family to a shelter and help feed the homeless. You could go to the hospital and visit the children’s floor and bring a smile to all the kids faces. You could visit a nursing home and tell some jokes or sit with the old man in the corner and let him tell you all about Thanksgiving back in his day and how he had to walk 5 miles uphill in the snow to school. You can sit around in your favorite room, with your favorite people and laugh until you cry. You could do all of these things and at the end of the day you can look around, take a deep breath, and feel ever so Thankful. In the end the retailers will all be there tomorrow.