Happy Thanksgiving?

How “happy” can we possibly be about a day traditionally set aside for giving thanks, when that day has been overcome by consumerism?

I am saddened by the fact that retail outlets are not only advertising sales for Thanksgiving day, but they are proud to be open and ready to serve the general public. I am more deeply disturbed by the reasons for this. One can only assume that the demand for stores to remain open on Thanksgiving is overwhelming.

Black Friday has been a day I have found unnecessary for years. However, consumer demand for retail stores to open on Thanksgiving day, requiring many people to spend time away from their families without a choice is an indication of a much deeper problem. Our society has lost the ability, the desire, to shut down for a day. We will not perish—our society and culture will not cease to exist—if we are not able to buy things for one day.

It’s been known for a long time that we are a society obsessed with things. We hear all the time that money doesn’t buy happiness, and more things don’t mean greater happiness either. And yet, our need, our desire, to accumulate more and more continues to grow. It is amazing to me that we spend the period between Thanksgiving (a day to give thanks for what we already have) and Christmas (a day with deep-rooted meaning and tradition) enduring the stress and anxiety of buying things. In the process, the entire significance of the season is completely lost amongst—you guessed it—things.

Happiness should not be standing in line for hours to get a sale price on the latest technology, toy, gift, or fad. Happiness is not spending money on things that will be forgotten or will become worn and outdated with time. We have been led astray by companies pretending to care about our happiness and well-being. Companies are concerned with one thing—their bottom line. The companies that do truly care about their customers and their employees remain closed on Thanksgiving day, and some even the day after. These are the companies that are doing their part to fight the demand placed on them by our consumeristic culture. They are also hard to come by.

We are raising children who will have no idea what it is like to slow down and enjoy life. They are learning that there is nothing more important than what they purchase. They are learning to be less attached, both physically and emotionally, to other people, and more attached to busy-ness and accumulating things.

The only way we can re-claim the importance of days off, of holidays, is to quit producing the demand. If no one wants to shop on Thanksgiving day, the stores will have no reason to open. Unfortunately, this type of change is not likely to occur. Too many people believe in what we are becoming, and too few are willing to say it is unacceptable.

The more things we have and the more things we think we need, the more stressed and anxious we become. We work harder to earn money to buy more things so that we have to go back and work even harder. Sometimes we even buy things we can’t afford, forcing us to work harder to make up for things we couldn’t afford in the first place. We are the only ones who can stop it, and we do have the power and choice to do so.

So, make your choice this Thanksgiving and make it a truly happy day, not only for yourself but for the people who have to be at the stores so we can shop. Don’t shop. No thing is so important that it must be bought on Thanksgiving. Save yourself the time, energy, and money, and do something fun. Or take care of your family or yourself. Enjoy the day, and allow yourself a little pat on the back for saving yourself from the stress of shopping on Thanksgiving. Make sure you also remember to give thanks for the things you’ve already got.

About Jamie Schwoerer

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