Why Are So Many of Us Unable to Stay Home, Even for One Day?

More and more stores are staying open on Thanksgiving.

Black Friday sales were pushed back to Thanksgiving Day in a lot of places yesterday so that eager shoppers could forego the necessity of staying home with their families and go buy things.

What does this say about us and our sense of family, community, and even our ability to just stop for one day and be at home?

The National Catholic Register ran an interesting article on the topic today. More than one priest, including Cardinal Dolan, has weighed in on the subject. From what I read, it seems that they see this trend as another attack on the family.

I think they’ve got the emphasis in the wrong place. I think that rather than being the retailers’ fault, this phenomena of Thanksgiving shopping is another symptom of the deteriorating home lives and interior peace of a lot of Americans.

Far too many of us have lost the concept of home. We don’t even know what home is. We think it’s a house, a place to be furnished and shown off. We have no concept of home as a nesting, resting, sheltering place in the storms of life. We’ve destroyed the concept of home as refuge and resting place by destroying the family.

Our families, with all their dysfunctions and bitterness, have become the last people in the world a lot of us want to spend time with. Our homes and families, rather than being safe harbors in a troubled world, have become just another place where the nuts attack and the few sane ones battle for footing. Thus, we have the growing trend of shopping ’til you drop instead of staying home for one day with your family

We have also created a society where large numbers of people are adrift in the world, living as singularities. Our increasingly fractured families and nomadic lifestyles leave a lot of people without families to go to on Thanksgiving. Meanwhile our traumatic lifestyles create an obsessive need to be constantly in motion and an inability to rest.

So many of our families are scarred by divorce, drugs, alcoholism and a hamster-in-a-cage work/buy/work/buy mentality that we are rapidly becoming a nation of home-induced trauma victims. One of the hallmarks of trauma victims that I’ve observed is that they can not sit still. If they are quiet for very long at all, the demons of their mind start jabbing at them. So they go-go-go and make chaotic jumbles of their lives in the process.

The end result is that we’re developing a national inability to stay home with our families for even one day. That’s why I think the priest who’s quoted in this article has identified the symptom but diagnosed the wrong cause. The retailers aren’t causing this phenomenon. They are reacting to it.

These stores wouldn’t stay open if nobody came to buy. We’re feeding this beast. Not them.

The National Catholic Register article says in part:

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Shoppers wait to enter a Best Buy store on Nov. 25, 2011 in Naples, Fla.

– Spencer Platt/Getty Images

DENVER, Colo. — The expansion of Thanksgiving weekend shopping to the holiday itself has raised concerns among both workers and clergy who worry that the change puts family time at risk.

Father Sinclair Oubre, spiritual moderator of the Texas-based Catholic Labor Network, said the store openings are a “disturbing trend” that is “an assault on the family.”

“We have almost completed the evolutionary process of having two classes of workers: those who get holidays off, and can stay with their families, and those who are forced to work, so that those who have holidays off won’t have to stay with their families,” Father Oubre said.

Retailers such as Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Toys “R” Us and Gap are increasingly opening their stores on Thanksgiving Day. The following day, known as Black Friday, is one of the most profitable shopping days of the year.

Business analysts cite increased competition from Internet shopping and some customers’ desires to shop on Thanksgiving as motives to open stores on what is traditionally a day off, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In 2011, retailers who opened on Thanksgiving Day earned 22% more over the Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Two popular Internet petitions on the Change.org website are protesting the changes.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/thanksgiving-day-shopping-called-assault-on-family-life?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2012-11-22#ixzz2D3rr2S6C

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  • http://reflectionsforthesoul.com Marcelle Bartolo-Abela

    You’re right on the money, Rebecca, as usual. Many of us have, somehow, lost the ability to stay even with ourselves in peace and quiet and just be; let alone with our families. So we need to go off and do something else, to fill in the internal, personal void which has ensued… As though buying material things and even more material things is going to fill this. Sigh. When will we learn?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I think we have to regain the idea of home and family as refuge and we have to do it as husbands and wives, building homes for our children. This will be difficult, since so many people today are so damaged that they can’t even commit to marriage and children. They’d rather float alone through life, like a wood chip in a stream, than have homes and families of their own.

      • http://reflectionsforthesoul.com Marcelle Bartolo-Abela

        Yes to both issues. But with patience, love and a lot of grace it can be done. Indeed, it will happen.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I think so too. The key is conversion of the culture.

  • http:/actualfreedomjustine.com Justine

    An interesting article. Humans live restless lives. Apart from wander lust, we are living scattered lives and pulled in different directions. To keep quiet in peace and silence at home every now and then, can rejuvenate one to deeper dimensions of life, and enrich family relationships too.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      “To keep quiet in peace and silence at home every now and then, can rejuvenate one to deeper dimensions of life, and enrich family relationships too.”

  • http://myyearlongjourney.com Marisa

    So, so true, Rebecca! More and more our society is becoming ultra fast-paced. It appears nearly impossible for some to sit still. I hate to blame the technological advancements… seems so cliche to do so, but I do believe we have adopted the fast-food mentality. We opt for the drive through selection and then pull up to the window expecting an immediate solution/result. Patience is definitely a thing of the past and heaven forbid we should have to wait for anything… fast food, fast cash, fast cars, fast & the furious! We can’t even watch the news without having a dozen different scrolling options to appease our need for constant chaos. My daughter, who is now 25 can’t watch a home movie with us without texting, facebooking, instagramming, tweeting, pinteresting, & emailing all at the same time. Not to mention, she’s always on the go. Yesterday (Thanksgiving), it was all she had to lounge around the house with mom & dad (kinda boring) even though she said the time was wonderful and restful, she was chomping at the bit by evening to go DO something. So, the 2 of us went out and delivered food to a friend who spent the day alone and then went out on the town (’twas fun, but I would have rather stayed home). I teach special education and firmly believe one of the most destructive patterns our society has embraced is the high speed lifestyle. We don’t all process that quickly and hence disabilities have skyrocketed! I believe much of the ADD we are seeing is the result of too much stimuli bombarding the brain all at once. The brain is literally being wired to take in an overabundance of information all at the same time that it can’t focus on one thing at a time. Sorry to ramble! Great post… Unfortunately, not an easy fix! We’ve created a monster I’m afraid…

  • http://scpeanutgallery.com Art Chartier

    You’re right. Here’s a simple test – how many families eat together at a family table… daily, weekly? For conversation, mutual support and prayer? The TV show “Bluebloods” w/ Tom Selleck is a model of what I have in mind.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I insisted on eating together at the table when my kids were little. It led to some funny times. For instance, I had to line up cereal boxes down the middle of the table because they complained that this or that one was “staring” at them. But it’s also led to a lot of discussions where we learned about one another’s lives. It’s a great bonding experience … and it helps keep the house clean!

  • Theresa Mason

    I even have to ask my 33 year old son to turn off his cell. I don’t even own one! I don’t think they’re inherantly bad…until we let them determine our lives.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      They’re a great convenience. But we forget that this is all they are. Good for you, asking him to turn it off.

  • http://jobowerwrites.wordpress.com Jo Randall Bower

    Good stuff! I think you are right about the misdiagnosis. We often get things backwards and blame the ones who are reacting to what they see instead of solving the problem at the source. God help us as we try ro keep our families intact in his presence.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks Jo. You got it right when you said God help us. That is our source. Blessings.

  • http://literarylew@wordpress.com lewis chamness

    An astute observation. Thank you so much. It speaks of the spiritual emptiness of our culture. Being devoid of a center, we try to fill it up with stuff disregarding the advise of Shakespeare who said, “Within be fed, without be rich no more.”

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Excellent observation Lewis. Thank you.

  • http://kathieevenhouse.wordpress.com Kathie Evenhouse

    What can we do? If you value family time and practice it, share with others who have never experienced it. Thanksgiving is a great way to do this. Over the years, we have found many people who can’t, or don’t want to, spend time with their family on this day. (If you have moved around and have not been close to family, your definition of family expands to include others.) It’s not a big statement and I don’t think it will change the world, but we can touch a few lives.

  • http://www,thoughtsfromanamericanwoman.wordpress.com Patty

    This is so true, when we are asked what we are doing for vacation, holidays, etc…we tell them, we will be staying home and relaxing and they are surprised. The only time we did travel over holidays was to visit my inlaws who lived in a different part of the state and every other year seeing the Steelers play (part of our family Christmas celebration)..but normally long weekends, holidays now that my inlaws are gone and vacations are spent at home enjoying the simple pleasures and each other. Blessings – Patty

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      We don’t travel over the holidays, either Patty. I don’t want to be anywhere else but home at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • Elizabeth

    We had to wait for my son to get home from work before we could have our Thanksgiving dinner. Ugh, we used to eat about 2 or 3pm, this year we had to wait till 6pm till he got home from work! So weird. A person’s work or life’s schedule affects all of us, the whole family.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      True. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving anyway. I’m sure it was great for him to come home to.

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