The focus at Thanksgiving on family and friends gathered around food in an expression of gratitude has grown sweeter and sweeter to me with each passing year. As a child nothing could top the joy and excitement of reaching into my stocking and opening presents on Christmas morning. The longing and waiting for Christmas morning was barely containable, and I can still bring the incredible sense of anticipation to mind. Thanksgiving seemed terribly lackluster in comparison. Yes, the food was wonderful, but no presents? BORING.
Now I relish the simplicity of Thanksgiving. The familiar recipes are comforting, not boring. Eating turkey, mashed potatoes, wild rice casserole, green beans and buttermilk pie year after year could be a foodie’s nightmare, but I find it reassuring. There’s no need to decorate the house and the yard, send cards, write a holiday letter or throw parties, the day is complete in and of itself.
It’s a day to focus on the faces around the table, on thinking over the year and remembering the wonderful blessings even in the midst of challenges and hard times. A day to include people who can’t get home to be with their families. A day to watch football and movies and play games and let life move more slowly.
So when Black Friday encroached on Thanksgiving Thursday this year, I was truly bothered. If anyone wishes to rise at 4:00 a.m. on Friday morning and hit the sales with coupons and coffee in hand, have at it. You won’t talk me into joining you, but I’ll be happy to share in your excitement over bargains and great finds – when I wake up at 8:00 a.m., that is.
But stores opening on Thanksgiving this year crossed the line I didn’t think would be crossed. Thanksgiving has long been the day set aside for gratitude and kept separate from the day which often depicts materialism at its worst. Not any more. Gratitude and greed commingled in 2012, and I’m not sure they’ll be separated again.
I hope in the end the financial analysis will show the cost of opening on Thanksgiving was not matched by the sales made. But knowing the American consumer’s penchant for a bargain, I’m not optimistic.
I intend to do my part to keep Thanksgiving orange and Black Friday black. Won’t you please do yours?