OPINION — The holidays have always been a double-edged sword for me. I like the warmth, the spirit, the feel of the season that houses Thanksgiving, Christmas and the run-up to the new year.
I find some of it hollow, though.
I mean, how can we be so humble and grateful on one day, then lose our collective minds the next day battling it out on Black Friday? I’ve covered enough Black Friday stories to know what it’s like to stand out in front of one of those mega-stores in the snow before the sun comes up, hoping to snatch one of the loss-leader items, vastly underpriced and advertised heavily to draw you in the door.
I remember once assigning a reporter to cover Black Friday. Her husband wasn’t too pleased when she returned home that day, her vehicle sagging badly from the weight of her purchases and her credit cards maxed out.
The story, sadly, focused on a couple of women who went to fisticuffs when one actually took an item out of the shopping cart of the other because it was the last item of its kind on the shelf.
Not exactly the best way to launch into a holly, jolly Christmas.
I much prefer sticking close to the refrigerator and Thanksgiving-feast leftovers to getting an elbow in the chops from some stranger who thinks I am about to grab the last of this year’s Cabbage Patch doll, Tickle Me Elmo or whatever else becomes the “must-have” gift of the year. Those leftover turkey sandwiches will go well with the NHL doubleheader on TV (Bruins and Rangers in the early game, Ducks and Blackhawks in the nightcap for you hockey aficionados).
I do like the fact that there will be so many people moving about and so many people getting infected with the holiday spirit that social media — whether the artificial kind you find on the Internet or the actual interaction of living, breathing bodies in proximity to one another — will calm down somewhat.
We can all use a break from Trump, Hillary, Carson, Bernie and the others, right?
I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to have a moratorium on all that?
If I could, I’d declare all social media as a demilitarized zone through the holidays. All that sabre-rattling and anger is a buzzkill and, besides, won’t we have enough turkeys to go around anyway?
I like the occasion of the holidays — their purpose — but I don’t like a lot of the other stuff.
I’m not big on the crass commercialization that dropped in on us a little before Halloween this year and I think this whole business of spending a lot of money to show your love and appreciation of each other is lame. There are far better ways to express our love and appreciation for each other and, really, shouldn’t we show that love and appreciation all year instead of saving it up for the holidays?
Really, isn’t that how it should be?
But then, I’m not much impressed by the square footage of your house, the kind of car parked in its garage or the size of your bank account. And if you’ve been a jerk the entire year, what makes you think you can redeem yourself with an expensive Christmas gift? I’m not that shallow.
So, I can find no need, want or desire to get into that whole Black Friday mode or, now, Brown Thursday mentality.
Yeah, retailers are calling Thanksgiving “Brown Thursday” now, with many stores opening shortly after you finish that last slice of pecan pie on Thanksgiving Day.
It’s greed, of course, as the retailers put more priority on revenue than allowing their employees to enjoy family time that is more important and rewarding than the overtime pay they will earn, which after taxes, won’t amount to that much anyway. I’m not much for boycotts, but I certainly endorse not walking through any of the shops that will be open on Thanksgiving.
I rather like the way the first Thanksgiving was celebrated.
In 1621, 90 Native Americans joined 53 Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation following a bountiful harvest.
The celebration lasted for three days. Four women, — Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna (White) Winslow — cooked the feast with help from their daughters and a smattering of servants.
By all accounts, it was festive, peaceful, and plentiful even without football games and Black Friday shopping lists.
There was a simplicity to it all, really, as the congregation of settlers had much to be thankful for after enduring rough times.
That simplicity has, of course, escaped us in a modern world gone awhirl.
In some ways, we have become too much a part of a greater world and, perhaps, disconnected from the things that should be of utmost importance: our families, our friends, ourselves. It is proving divisive.
So, I hope we can ratchet down those conflicts, find our commonalities and remember those blessings that enrich our lives.
I have much to be thankful for, from my incredibly understanding, supportive, loving wife and family to friends who have endeared themselves to my heart and the joy of doing what I consider to be important work.
It has helped me find my happy place.
All that other stuff? Some of it is important, most of it isn’t.
So happy Thanksgiving. Focus on those people, places and things that are really important and find your happy place.
And … stay away from Brown Thursday, Black Friday and all that other stuff.
That’s not what the holidays are all about.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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