Nestled between the constantly growing popularity of Halloween and the harried excesses of Christmas, Thanksgiving too often gets lost in the holiday shuffle, which is unfortunate given the import that should be associated with this special time of the year.
Later this week we will pause for the one day set aside annually for us as a nation to offer thanks for whatever blessings we may feel appropriate. For too many, however, the day has become noteworthy not for showing appreciation, but rather as the unofficial start of the holiday buying season and a relaxed Thursday that serves as a precursor to an insanely commercial Black Friday.
And now we’ve decided that Black Friday alone isn’t enough, with many major retailers deciding they need to be open Thanksgiving Day itself for those determined to get that must-have Christmas present at a hopefully deeply discounted price.
It’s not hard to imagine a time in the not too distant future where the concept of families and friends coming together for a Thanksgiving meal and an afternoon of fellowship and gratitude for life’s blessings is replaced by a two-day shopping bonanza that does little more than pay lip-service to the concept of giving thanks. Think Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings served at the mall food court.
And that’s too bad.
Despite our problems, our worries and our challenges, most of us have an abundance of reasons to be thankful. Our standard of living is far above that of much of the world; even in bad times we live in a land of plenty. Our system of government, despite its weaknesses, works better than any other. We still enjoy freedoms and liberties that those living in other countries can only imagine.
There is much for which we all should pause to give thanks on Thursday.
The next few days deserve to be a very special time of the year. We should all slow down, look around, and allow our hearts to fill with gratitude for what we have. Soon enough we will be racing at breakneck speed toward Christmas, preparing for the start of yet another year, racing into the dark and dreary days of deep winter.
Give yourself a treat this Thanksgiving season. Make the most of the holiday. Rejoice in the spirit of this most uniquely American of holidays. Slow down. Relax. Enjoy Thanksgiving as it was meant to be enjoyed.