Turkey. Ham. Mashed Potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Corn. Stuffing. Green beans. Rolls. Pie. I love that Thanksgiving is an excuse to eat all the best homemade foods the best cooks in your family can dream up. I’m confident I ate in proportion to my level of gratitude this past weekend—especially since I attended two Thanksgiving feasts.
Strangely, I felt more indulgent this weekend than I did thankful. Anyone else? Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but do you know what I mean? Thanksgiving is certainly not about indulgence, but sometimes I wonder if our culture of consumerism has slowly eroded our country’s grateful spirit. Seriously, on the day of the year when we are encouraged to reflect on what we’ve been given, many of us are frantically searching for and thinking through the best deals to be found the very next day.
I looked at them, too. This bothers me.
You would think this year might be different than previous years. More people seem to be struggling financially, at least that is the report I get from the 44 churches I meet with regularly in Charlotte. Every one of them had to make budget cuts in 2011 because giving was down significantly. People seem to be saving more and spending less, right? That would lead me to expect shopping lines to be shorter and sales to be smaller on Black Friday. Boy was I wrong.
Smartmoney.com reports, “Early figures from the National Retail Federation say the average shopper spent about $400 in stores this weekend, up 9.1% from last year. Online spending rose 24% to about $150. In all, shoppers spent a record $52 billion.” Wow.
I wish we could divorce Thanksgiving and Black Friday. I don’t put much faith in political change, but I’ll vote for the presidential candidate that does so. I’m not quite sure what it looks like in my life yet, but I want to do something to ensure that Thanksgiving weekend is about gratefulness and contentment more than it is greed and consumption—at the very least in my life and my family’s lives.
Remembering what Thanksgiving is about is now counter-cultural. The pilgrims designated one day of the year solely devoted to giving thanks to God, the Creator and Sustainer of the world. The large majority of us have exponentially more material possessions and money than the pilgrims did. They set aside one day. Perhaps we should set aside all four days of Thanksgiving weekend.