Thanksgiving has come and gone, and gone too quickly.
The last Thursday of November is, for many, a day full of tradition. It is day set aside just once a year to invite friends and family to join us at the table, to share a meal and give thanks for the gifts that have been bestowed upon us. Some may have more to be thankful than others, but Thanksgiving Day provides a chance to be grateful for even the little things, despite life’s challenges.
Unfortunately, the gratitude seems to have become all-too-brief in our consumer-driven culture. Each year, commercial marketing encroaches on Thanksgiving more and more. It’s no wonder our collective behavior changes so swiftly from that of contented gratitude to vicious materialism when the day we set aside each year to give thanks for what we already have is barely given a chance to be. Black Friday sales have virtually sprung ahead on the internet, and shopping malls now open their doors on Thursday evening. Thanksgiving is prefaced with declarations of gratitude, only to be followed a mere few hours later by us busting down storefronts and trampling over each other for more material goods. The irony is as thick as gravy.
Walk into a shopping mall in October, and you’re already being introduced to silver, greens and reds, and bombarded by the music of Burl Ives and Bing Crosby singing of reindeer and dreams of snow. That’s approximately one quarter of the entire year devoted to commercializing a holiday that lasts for a mere 24 hours… and is, one is taught, supposed to celebrate the birth of a religious figure who famously rejected material wealth.
“Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’”
(The Parable of the Rich Fool, Luke 12:15, NIV)
We need only to read headlines and watch the news to be reminded to be thankful for all that we have in this country. A free press, access to health care and emergency services, and protection from persecution, just to name a few of the big ones. Even as we venture into frenzied malls in the coming weeks, may we challenge ourselves not to lose sight of that for which we are grateful—for those things are not guaranteed and, without vigilance, are all-too-easily lost.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.