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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why I Need This Holiday

By Alice Doyle

Last week I was sitting in my stylist’s chair, struggling to make small talk while she worked her magic on my hair. Thanksgiving was an obvious choice of topic, and I asked her what she would be doing. She told me she usually cooks for her extended family, but this year she had decided they would eat out so that she could start shopping when the stores opened at 5 PM. She elaborated, telling me that Black Friday is a tradition for her and her girlfriends who literally “shop ‘till they drop” from Thursday afternoon until Friday evening. 26 glorious hours of filling bags, trekking to the car and going back for more, more, more. More what? “You should see my girls’ lists! What don’t they want?”

The check-out clerk at Walmart told me she was working 2pm-11pm Thanksgiving Day. They don’t close lest the people arrive in droves and inadvertently trample someone on the way to the greatest buy. I asked her when she would celebrate Thanksgiving. She shrugged and said she wouldn’t but that her mother and brother would be celebrating. At the grocery store, I overheard a manager tell a customer, “We’re only open until 5pm on Thanksgiving. I’ll be out of here by 5:30 and maybe get a few leftovers.”

My fellow Americans—WHAT IS GOING ON? 

I have two concerns about all of this.

First, it is extremely un-American. Thanksgiving is our holiday, rooted in our nation’s infancy. It is an important part of our history. We should embrace it. One day of the year, set aside to give thanks and celebrate our tremendous blessings as a nation is, in the balance, the very least we can do. And yet, we aren’t doing it. Instead, we are rushing through and past the gratitude to the “more, more, more” that marks the celebration of Christmas.

Which is my second point. If you were the devil trying to distract the world from focusing on the poor, newborn babe in the manger, how would you do it? Rampant materialism might be a good place to start. The central message of Christmas is that God gave the world His best gift. His son, Jesus, is literally all we need. We do not need “door busters” regardless of the price. And yet, how many people will rush away from the good things in life today like good friends, family and the comforts of home in search of deals that will someday be so much junk in a landfill?

I saw an interesting sign recently: “If you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday, what would you have?” My honest answer? Not much. Which is why I need this holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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