Got your turkey yet? Because in case you missed it, next week is Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. If you’re vegetarian Thanksgiving might not be your favorite. I can’t imagine it’s easy to get excited about Tofurkey, and as a former vegetarian I know how sad it is to see that gorgeous spread of food, but you can only eat like three things. I’m pretty sure the only Thanksgiving foods that aren’t made of animals are the rolls, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, and even though mashed potatoes are meat free, what is the point without gravy?
As if the tables laden with coma inducing food weren’t enough of a reason to be in love with a holiday (and PS: it totally is), the other super cool reason it’s my favorite is because it’s all about being grateful for our blessings. It’s probably a tradition in your household to someway express your gratitude, whether you go around the table and take turns sharing what you’re thankful for, or you partake in a group craft to show your gratitude.
[Tweet “Being thankful is baked into this holiday. It’s right in the title, for crying out loud.”]
Thanksgiving is long been my fave because there was no consumerism involved. No pressure to buy gifts, or costumes, or decorations. The message of Christmas has long been overshadowed by consumerism. This is nothing new, I mean that’s the whole plot line of A Charlie Brown Christmas, first aired in 1965, and it’s only gotten worse. Holiday decorating is out of control, and the pressure to buy gifts is incredible. Why are we buying cars for each other now? That was not even a thing just a few years ago, but I’m already seeing commercials featuring a luxury autos adorned with ginormous bows.
Halloween isn’t for kids anymore. Way back in the day, your mom would have made your costume, or you went out as a princess, or a hobo, or cowboy or something. Then store-bought costumes got popular, and now there are giant pop-up warehouses full of costumes, mostly for adults, probably slutty. The decor has evolved from a jack-o’-lantern and some pretend spider webs to giant blow up witches with cauldrons spewing smoke, and full-size caskets. It’s also taken a disturbing turn from creepy and spooky to gory and downright maniacal.
Even Valentine’s Day has changed. You can’t get by on store-bought cards with silly puns anymore. Heaven help the poor kid who shows up to school with something less than Pinterest worthy. Exiled straight to loserville, buddy.
Thanksgiving manage to escape these expectations. No gifts, no costumes, and no elaborate decorations. Turkeys made of handprints and construction paper pilgrim hats are still A-OK. No pressure to do anything but give thanks and eat a crazy amount of food. Many years back I told Greg that Thanksgiving would be my favorite holiday til they figured out how to commercialize it. At that time, I didn’t see how they could. Then a thing called Black Friday came into our lives.
In the beginning, it wasn’t so bad. The newspaper was a lot fatter that day, and after celebrating all we were thankful for, we looked through the store ads to see what else we could add to our lives, because irony. Of course it couldn’t remain that simple; nothing ever does. “How can it be bigger?” “How can they spend more?” “Let’s make Thanksgiving shopping day!” In 2014, some stores decided Black Friday just wasn’t enough, and they needed to be open on Thanksgiving too.
I’m not naïve. I know a few people who celebrate Thanksgiving by going to the movies. There have always been businesses open on Thanksgiving. Restaurants, gas stations, flower shops, convenient stores, many more. The point isn’t that all businesses should be closed on Thanksgiving, or that nobody should have to work that day. I’ve worked plenty of Thanksgivings. But I have to question why we are turning a holiday about gratitude into an opportunity to buy more more more, to line up for hours to get a great deal (actually, not always), and to literally trample our fellow humans to score a few dollars in savings?
REI is closed on Black Friday, and not only that, they’re paying their employees and encouraging them to spend their Black Friday outdoors. I’m joining REI & encouraging everyone to avoid the mall on Black Friday & to go outside instead. And if you have to shop, and you probably do, please consider supporting Small Business Saturday instead.
Celebrate Thanksgiving the way it was intended, by giving thanks, spending time with those you love, and eating a week’s worth of calories in one sitting.