Thanksgiving and its Ugly Twin

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It has been slowly creeping up on us, —and as much as I have ignored the phenomenon, Black Friday has become an unofficial US holiday.

The Friday after Thanksgiving has long marked the beginning of the Christmas shopping season;  the term “Black Friday” was first coined in Philadelphia around 1961 to describe the abundance of pedestrians and traffic out and about the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Black Friday was later used the describe the (supposedly) first profitable day of the retail season.  In the past couple of decades, it has come to mean steep retail discounts and early morning madness.   Around 2005, stores started opening at 5am or 6am on Friday and in the past few years these opening times have been pushed back to midnight and now—6pm on Thanksgiving Day!

We can no longer think about Thanksgiving without  thinking about the new American holiday of Black Friday.  Black Friday has become part of Thanksgiving.  Two holidays side by side and they are polar opposites.

Thanksgiving is the all about gratitude.   The turkey, the trimmings, the warm fire and the amazing family.  A day to celebrate our blessings.

Black Friday is all about wanting more.  The entire focus is need, want and lack.  Everyone fights traffic and each other  in an attempt to score the latest and greatest stuff.  Even in the spirit of buying for our family, the focus of this event is material things.

I didn’t have major issues with Black Friday until:

1.)  My kids decided it was way cool and want to be escorted to the festivities.  Last year they started planning their trip over dessert on Thanksgiving day.

2.) The stores started opening earlier and earlier.  Now they open Thursday night.

My issue with this American tradition is that it impedes on the one day we officially set aside for gratitude.  Why on earth would I want to leave the warm, cozy environment of a home filled with family, food, warmth and love for the cold and cruel world of Wal-Mart?  When we rush through dinner on Thursday to get ready to go out and shop, our focus changes from being grateful to wishing and wanting.

Don’t get me wrong.   I enjoy stuff just as much as most Americans and I love indulging my family at Christmas.  Giving and receiving great presents is a blessing.  I just want to stay away from focusing on future blessings and miss the blessings sitting around my table right now.

I do not hate Black Friday–simply because I don’t want to give it that much power.   I choose not to spend my precious life energy hating much of anything.  If other people choose to stay up all night shopping, spending and buying, have at it!

I, however,  am choosing to not let this unofficial holiday tread on my idea of  Thanksgiving.     I am pledging this year to focus all of my energy on gratitude and the holiday of Thanksgiving.

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