Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do We Have What We Want, Or Do We Want More?

Thanksgiving has become just a little more complicated in recent years.  It’s not as clear to me anymore if I’m supposed to peel potatoes on Thursday morning, or go shopping for bargains. Now that several stores are open for me on Thanksgiving Day, I’ve got some choices to make...do we still observe the holiday, or just go shopping, or maybe do both? Black Friday has created its own weather system over the years, and let’s face it, Thanksgiving has become Black Friday Eve.

It’s a strange pairing of events. Thanksgiving centers around an elegant idea: we offer thanks to God and each other for all that we have--seeing the abundance of the truly necessary things in our lives. Black Friday puts us in touch with our insatiability as consumers, showing us what we don’t have but should want.  And it’s on sale, but hurry. 
I guess I’m worried about which event seems to be overshadowing the other.
T-Bone, Nat, and G
Mrs. C and I have three amazing young people in our family who happen to fit the demographic that is most constantly bombarded by consumerism. Our job as parents is to help them to be wise about how to respond to the swirling messages that come at them on this long weekend. Maybe we’ll all figure out a way to use this time well, and to learn to be satisfied even if we don’t have the latest, greatest stuff. To be fully present in our interactions with friends and family, enjoying the gifts of relationships.  Sure, we can also go out and have fun shopping too, but let's not take it too seriously.  Besides, kids, you don't have any money.  :)
If we do this right, there’s a chance that when the weekend is behind us, we’ll have accumulated a whole lot of great memories.  They tend to last longer than the gadgets anyway.


bikelovejones said...

When I first glanced at the photo I thought the guy on the left was you and the photo was twenty years old! Then I recognized your daughter in the middle and blinked. Wow.

As for stuff -- lots of ways to approach this. Sweetie and I like to gather up gloves, hats and other warm bits we and our friends aren't using and donate them to shelters and warming centers. When we visit her folks we all go out together in her father's car and deliver turkey dinners to those who are less ambulatory in their neighborhood.

And as for Black Friday, we call it "Buy Nothing Day"; every year one of our shops' locations will close and the other will only offer repair service (and parts purchases necessary to that repair). We usually have a skeleton staff that day; and some years we have our act together enough to close early and everyone meets up for a potluck dinner. (Not this year, too many folks out of town spending time with families.)

It saddens me to see the Christmas shopping ads appear before Halloween anymore, and I wonder what it must be like for my Christian friends -- especially those with children -- who must feel some kind of pressure to Have A Perfect Christmas Season.

(Here at Rancho Beth we have latke makings and dreydls and brand-new candles for the menorah, and that will pretty much be it bceause Chanukah is actually a fairly minor holiday in the Jewish calendar. We don't even exchange presents; we just eat at each others' homes and swap latke recipes. It takes the pressure off for sure.)

I think what matters most is time. Time with family and friends, time spent doing the things that matter most to you and do some good in the world. Time is NOT money, because you always make more money, but you can only spend the time you have.
Enjoy your time this Thanksgiving!

Jessica said...

Eric and I had the opportunity to teach our children about being thankful and giving last week. (My latest blog post explains it in detail.) And I'm so glad I'm not the only one who still teaches these things.
I went "Black Friday" shopping last year for the first time, to see what all the hype was about. I discovered that it wasn't worth a second of my tiredness.
I hope you have a wonderful time with your whole family together this Thanksgiving!!! ; )

Kelly C said...

Beth: time literally flew by with the kids, and your comment about the photo reminds me of that. In that context, your comments about enjoying the time you have makes an even more important statement about how to approach holidays--and avoid "holidaze."
I hope you'll share more about the observances and insights in the Jewish faith...so much for me to learn and appreciate. Speaking of which, at some point I'd like to share with you how our son referenced the "Likrat Shabbat" prayer in his commencement address last June. Powerful. Thank you, Beth, for the gift of time you give to reading and commenting on this blog.

Jessica: What a gift you are giving to your boys. It's offering them an opportunity to get some perspective on life's lessons while they are forming their values. You and Eric are such great examples for them. No pressure here, but your influence right now is HUGE for your boys!!! You're doing a great job! :)

Jessica said...

Aw, shucks... thanks!