November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks (And A Course In Cut-Throat Shopping)

That single word, thought, idea is filled with so much different meaning to nearly everyone around the world. Here in America, it is also a Holiday, and a rather important one at that. It marks not only the historic celebration of our nation's first inhabitants and their beliefs, but also a time where we can come together with family and friends, and reflect on all that God has given us. I will admit that I was repeatedly meaning to post about it yesterday , but I kept finding other "more important" things to do. So I have finally found a chance to sit down, Black Friday morning at about 6:45 AM, and do some writing and reflecting. And I am quite sad. But I'll get into that in a bit. For the moment, I'd like to focus on Thanksgiving itself.

We owe this great date to President Lincoln or, more importantly, Sarah Josepha Hale. At the age of 74 she wrote to President Lincoln on September 28, 1863, and strongly suggested that the day of Thanksgiving, an occasion that was, until then, held annually and chosen individually by each state, be made an official and permanent holiday. Since the last Thursday in November 1863, it has been held on nearly the same date every year. Lincoln signed and sealed the document announcing it an official, annual Holiday of thanks on October 3, 1863. Very little has changed since. Imagine: in the midst of a Civil War that threatened to divide our country, everyone made time and space in their hearts to sit down and give thanks together. Maybe it was the fact that people were able to do this that gave America hope that all was not lost and saved the nation.

Even today, we still sit down together and feast in commemoration of the Pilgrims and Indians' three days of feasting. They too were sitting down to eat and give thanks in the midst of trial. Only the winter before they had been living in fear of the "redskins" and restricted to five kernels of corn per-person at mealtimes. Imagine the contrast of those meager vittles to great spread they were now partaking of together with their new allies and friends. My own heart is filled with a warm gratitude when I consider all that God has done for my family, and I try to give thanks accordingly.

And yet I am sad. All throughout the day yesterday I was busy with preparation and activity. Like everyone else I posted a Twitter and Facebook mentioning how thankful I was, and was very merry the entire day. The friends who had invited us for dinner fell victim to a bad cold and flu, so we had to break out the emergency supplies. Stovetop stuffing and chicken, not turkey, was the order of the day, as well as cranberries, mashed potatoes, and veggies. We had been planning on taking H'ordeuvres and dessert, so we were well equipped on that front. However, despite thinking well of things and cooking good food, I found that as I lay in bed last night I was filled with the worst possible feeling: that of deep regret. I had been busy the entire day, and I had barely, for one moment, given thought to true thanksgiving and appreciation. I was devastated with my own blithe disregard of an entire day dedicated to slowing down and dwelling on what I've been given. Another reason for my sadness is the Black Friday obsession. Thanksgiving used to be the only Holiday dedicated to being non-materialistic, but now it is dedicated to perusing the ads for the next day's sales and even, in recent years, getting deals in the day before. Employees should never be forced to work on Thanksgiving, especially considering the crazy schedule for the following day. I'm not going to get on a soapbox and preach, it's far too early in the morning for that, but I am going to let this thought linger and hope that your conscience is pricked as much as mine is when you think about our nation's obsession with material goods and sales.

Here are some pictures of our day and the food we served. The closest we came to serving a turkey is our friend below, whom I dubbed Friedrich. He was very tasty and probably the healthiest thing available.

Now. Black Friday.
My mother has only gone out three times, and this is my second second (as of this year. Last year I stayed home and watched my sister's infant son while she got in some quality shopping time with our mum). Black Friday smarts aren't hard to learn, and you don't need years of experience to know how to best go about getting deals and beating the crowd. The hardest thing is finding parking spaces and staying calm amidst crowds of frenzied people. (Note: people as individuals are okay, but as a large group they are panicky and dangerous. Proceed with caution.) My mother and I are rather low-key, and we only went to Target. We were probably the nicest people in the store, letting others pass between us as they ran to get their items, and sharing our cart space with the other people in line next to us. All in all, we were able to get all we wanted, and I was able to replenish my wardrobe for under $30, as well as buying us both a Holiday Starbucks drink. Please people, let's not be greedy- there's enough stuff to go around, and fist-fighting for toys is hardly mature, nor is it setting a good example for the children you are presumably buying the gift for.

My personal suggestion is to buy on Amazon and, most importantly, on Etsy. Etsy is the greatest option, because it supports the craftsman and artist, as well as upholds free market and keeps the economy moving. I speak not only as a seller and artist, but as student in an in-depth Economy class. Many of the sellers are having Black Friday sales, and you have the added option of personalization in many cases, as well as getting to meet the friendly and unique sellers.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday. Christmas is but a month away, and I'm already uploading my favorite tunes onto my iPod, and preparing to walk to work in the snow (we got a couple inches this past week). Many blessings and good cheer to all my readers.


Bri said...

First of all, I think it's peculiarly common for most of the people in the world to gloss over the deeper meanings of EVERYTHING. It's not a surprise that most avoid any virtuous thought on Thanksgiving besides "I'm thankful for pecan pie"... and it's even difficult for Christians, who have the most reason of all to be thankful. It's all crazy.

But not as crazy as Black Friday!! What in the world... I didn't even leave the house that day, hehe.

Which drink did you get from Starbucks? We love the holiday ones. ^_^

Grace said...

I got a skinny Peppermint mocha. Because sometimes I feel like I'd probably sell my soul for peppermint...

And I'll just make up for it by being EXTRA thankful the rest of the year. :)

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