Thursday, December 6, 2012

Giving Thanks: In Which I Lament the Scarcity of Gratitude and the State of the Union

In 1789, President George Washington declared "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God."    Two hundred, twenty-three years later, President Obama again proclaimed a day to be "grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives."  But somewhere through the years, the focus shifted from gratitude FOR the bounty, to acquiring MORE bounty.

The term "Black Friday" has been around since the 1960's (at least, according to the sites I could find in my 3 minutes of internet research), but it's only in the last 10-15 years that it has become a holiday on it's own.  Families plan their Thanksgiving outings to be near the largest shopping meccas.  Shoppers are actually injuring each other to get new stuff to replace the stuff they were being thankful for just hours earlier.  Then Friday expanded to Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  What's next? - the "Skip Church to Shop Super Sale - Goliath Savings for the Non-Believer and the Backslider!"

The "gimme" frenzy has now invaded Thanksgiving itself.  Many stores run specials on Thursday evening to lure shoppers out even earlier.  "Put down that drumstick, Pa. We gotta get to the Wal-Mart!"

Before you get irate at my attitude, let me assure you that I'm not averse to bargain shopping.  And I even joined in the Black Friday shop-a-thon for the first time this year - sort of.  We were at Mitch's because he was on call - Mitch's girlfriend went home for the weekend and Amanda was in KC with her boyfriend's family - so it was just the three of us.  We got curious about how many people would actually line up for the early sales in Hays, KS - so we ventured out to people-watch.  Honestly, we were probably all secretly hoping for schadenfreude.  We went to Wal-Mart and Home Depot.  By the time we drove by the mall, we were tired and the crowd - if there had been one - had thinned, so we didn't stop.  We didn't witness any long lines or appalling behavior.  We did see Wal-Mart employees scurrying like underpaid Christmas elves to get multi-plex size TV's stocked for the 5:00 a.m. crowd.  We bought a few things, but nothing that wouldn't have been the same price the next Tuesday.  

It's just sad.  Sad that we have become so possession obsessed that we can't devote an entire day to being grateful for what we have.  Sad that merchants feed on that obsession to entice us to behave this way.  Why can't the specials be offered throughout December?  And why have we become so greedy that we will have fist-fights to get a $12 hand mixer for $7.95?

If you've read many of my ramblings, you may know my mantra:  Live Simply, Live Graciously, Finish Well.  My desire for "stuff" has diminished the past few years.  Oh yes, it still rears it's head on occasion - especially near a fabric store or Hobby Lobby - but my idea of living simply is to, as much as possible, cut out those things - possessions, commitments, relationships - that cause unnecessary work or stress with no return.  Fabric and craft supplies pay many returns in relaxation, creativity and beauty. But I'm adding a new goal for the new year - and the years beyond . . . to live gratefully.  Not just on Thanksgiving, but daily.  I will be keeping a gratitude journal to remind me of how blessed I am and The One who has blessed me - and to say "Thank you".

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.
                                                                  - Denis Waitley (author and motivational speaker)


  1. I definitely like your concept on how to live Tami! I'm the same way; Live simply, (I need to be more grateful; I think I'll get that gratitude journal going too) and Finish well. I'm always reminded in Ecclesiastes (I know I spelled that wrong) how Solomon says we toil and work hard for things that we leave to someone else, who often doesn't even want those things. So sad that we live in a society where we need to keep accumulating things to be happy.

    Good reminder for me to be more grateful indeed!


  2. Nice post, Tami! Have you read Ann Voskamp's book 'One Thousand Gifts' ? You'll love it! Check out her blog too.

  3. Good thoughts - I too was annoyed by Good Friday and did some research online about it - seems of course there is a lot of scamming going on by stores - The quick commercial about a 399.00 IPAD - went by so fast that you didn't notice it was an IPAD II and we are now into Generation IV for IPADS so it wasn't really a good deal at all. But it would get you into the store right?

  4. This is my first time visiting your page and I have to say that you echo my sentiments exactly. I think that we should shop with happiness over giving the perfectly well-thought out gift to another with meaning, not with frenzy. What I have come to find, though, regarding Thanksgiving night-Black Friday-Cyber Monday frenzy, is that most people aren't buying gifts for others - they are acquiring new booty for themselves. And, frankly, that fact is appalling, as it counters what the start of this season should be - the celebration of the ultimate gift and sharing/giving to others who are so important to us or need us.

    I'm not saying that we shouldn't try our best to save a buck when we are tickling our own fancies a bit with something nice. However, I do think that when it comes to us wanting things over sharing a gift with someone else that we are lacking a bit in understanding what giving is. Sorry for my rant as a new reader!