Do we need to hurry to buy and give before we take time to actually think about what our actions mean?
by Bridget Brewster
Thanksgiving has historically been a time when American families stop working and shopping in order to actually take a few hours to think about their blessings. One day out of 365 to cut loose from our routines. For some it’s extended to an entire three-day family gathering . . . imagine that. Too much?
Now, let’s not overrate this season as a panacea of goodness and light, but it could be more than the kick-off for unbridled consumerism that culminates in Santa Day. The ever-encroaching demand for shopping every minute (in the name of savings and finding the perfect gifts) and the even more overt grab for charitable giving is irritating, to say the least. It is an appalling commercial appeal to our need to get these obligations taken care of early, to put it more bluntly. What’s the rush? Do we need to hurry to buy and give before we take time to actually think about what our actions mean?
Black Friday (the largest shopping day of the year) has begun a veritable free-for-all totally eclipsing the heart of gift-giving. Don’t forget, for those who want to avoid the crowds and let the fingers (credit cards) do the shopping, we also have Cyber Monday. Geez! And now, we are being enticed to gobble the turkey and get out there and spend early to get the best deals. I’m sure some businesses even offer turkey sandwiches with a side of coupons for the first to set up camp in the parking lot. Really? Has shopping become just another competitive sport for us?
Then just a couple years ago, some bright enterprising, well-meaning soul introduced us to Giving Tuesday. That’s right. Now, charities everywhere are touting the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as the perfect day to give your online gift. This mentality, like the shopping frenzy, seems to send the message that we need to give in the same spirit as shopping. This kind of appeal is so market-driven that the soul-deep inspiration to be of help feels forgotten.
Please, don’t misunderstand this brief diatribe. I’m not advocating for a Norman Rockwell, picture-perfect Thanksgiving Day. I’m simply suggesting that this might be a good year to take stock of how we celebrate our lives and our blessings. Of course, there’s nothing innately wrong in wanting to spend and give our money wisely. However, it might be helpful to metaphorically put on earplugs that will block the incessant siren call to spend and give NOW. Maybe we could just take a few minutes to put it all in perspective and take one day to separate ourselves from the screams for our time and money.
One day to give thanks. One day to look across the table at people we love. One day to contemplate the good in our lives.
Reflection: How will I take time to feel God’s blessing? How will I express my gratitude?
Bridget Brewster is a freelance writer and a communications professional from Los Angeles.