It might cost me my spot in this excellent weekly, but I too want to be part of that glorious tradition when, with dishes from Thanksgiving dinner still sitting dirty in the sink, we run out to the mall, to trample each other for yet another gadget, for the latest videogame, for the toy we are convinced our child must own.
I want to brag to friends and relatives, and feel proud of having been part of that sacred ritual when we go endure the cold for the chance to fight the crowds, and beat them at buying more stuff. Even if just hours ago, we supposedly gave thanks for everything we already have.
Forgive my sarcasm, dear readers. I figured that with a headline like that, traffic to my blog would be guaranteed. I do know about good deals for Black Friday, and I will let you in on those. I promise you will get a bigger bang for you buck, and they will be incredibly easy on your wallet. They will not increase your credit card debt, and most importantly, they will give you deep satisfaction. Not just the short-lived high you get from buying yet another inane object.
I too, used to be confused about what giving thanks really means. I too, once got up at the crack of dawn to go buy something that didn't have anything to do with the values I was trying to model to my children. Luckily, that illusion didn't last, and for many years, in my family we have tried to focus on the real meaning of the season. And this year, this is what we get to do in lieu of bargain shopping:
My 18-year old son, away from home for the first time, is coming to spend a few days with us. We will not decide on what to make for dinner on Thanksgiving until he is here, and we all sit down to ponder the possibilities. Everyone knows that he will be our guest of honor, and therefore, he will get to pick the main dish; and if he so desires, even make it.
As much as budget and practicality allows, we try to run our home by consensus; with the younger ones often casting the deciding votes. Discussions often take longer than anticipated, but giving young people a view of how much their thinking is valued, is something no store will sell you, and no amount of money will buy you.
After dinner, and after going around the table saying what each of us is thankful for, we will likely watch a movie. Again, deciding what to watch that everyone can live with(including consideration of R-ratings), is bound to take some time.
On the day after Thanksgiving, we all go for a long walk to the Baylands. This is our kids' gift to me and my wife. Not everyone is always thrilled with the activity, but everyone knows that compromising is what keeps our family vessel moving forward and, most importantly, with no one building resentment.
Friday, another feast, and more hanging out together, peacefully at home, or visiting friends.
So, my friends, instead to stressing out about getting a head start on shopping for Christmas, be brave and try something different this year. The stores will always be full of stuff to buy. Bur the time to enjoy those we love, eventually runs out.