Friday, November 26, 2010

In which I propose Thanksgiving be a two-day holiday and name blog posts in the style of A.A. Milne

One of the things I love more than anything in the world is Farmer's Markets. I love the connections, the food, the air, the gifts of time, people, and the earth. In the spirit of Forgotten Friday I'll be sprinkling this post with images of something I am most grateful for...

I propose Thanksgiving be a two-day holiday. Call it whatever you like, do it as a tradition or a celebration, whatever you like.

Call it Thanks day and Giving Day, Thanksgiving and Give-Back it nothing at all. But I ask you to at least consider an extended holiday.

Thanksgiving can stay. Let it be as it is. Gorge on grandma's mashed potatoes, bliss out on a piece of pie, take a second helping of a green bean casserole laden in condensed soup and processed onions even. Keep it all, every second. Keep all the napping, family, football, indigestion and most of all the gratitude.


Then, the next day, or that weekend (it doesn't have to be Black Friday but I'll ask you to think about that too) take all those thanks you just said and put them to good work. You gave thanks for your home and family, your health, prosperity, your job...others may not be so lucky. After spending an indulgent day eating more that we really should, many of us go out and spend more than we can on things we don't need - they are things we want.

What about giving some of what we already have to those who are in need? I propose that we celebrate Thanksgiving fully - embrace the joys and give thanks and then we give to others. I propose that the second day of Thanksgiving highlight the giving aspect.


Clean out a closet - give a coat, or a sweater, to someone who needs shelter from the cold. Clean out a drawer - give soaps or toiletries to a women's shelter. Clean out a craft space - give supplies to a school or a community center. Clean out a toy box - give gifts to kids who thought Santa might forget about them this year.

Teach your kids what generosity is by involving them in the process and prepare for the onslaught of new toys, gadgets, and 'stuff' that is, in all likelihood, coming their way. Yes, I'm assuming, dear reader, that you have more than you need. I assume that if you have the time to read a blog that you can afford internet service, and that you are, for the most part, living comfortably.


Which brings me to my next point. I assume you are living, for the most part, comfortably. But how many of you have felt stress about money this year? Paid a bill late, charged an item on a credit card, lived a little beyond your means. I'm pretty sure we all do this once in a while, some more than others, some less. I ask you to again, consider the things you are thankful for - family, friends, a place to live...these are thing that financial missteps can damage greatly. Money is, more often than not, cited as a reason for divorce. Money issues create stress, stress can lead to heart attacks, heart attacks are the number one cause of death in America. Get where I'm going here?

Black Friday is named as such because it was the day that retailers finally broke even, finally moved their bank account ledgers "into the black"...meanwhile the consumers plunge more and more deeply "into the red" buying things they can't afford because they are on sale, putting everything we just praised and gave gratitude for into jeopardy. Sure, that's a bit of a jump to say that the one 50% off big-screen TV purchase could lead us down a path of ruined relationships and death but those little things add up, they become the collective.


Don't worry, I won't leave you with a downer post about debt and despair. I have some ideas and I hope you'll consider them:

1) Give thanks. Give thanks deeply, with meaning. Pause to reflect on what really, truly matters to you. I have a strong feeling you aren't giving thanks for a fancy pen, or a DVD, but rather for things that aren't really "things" at all - people, places, health, happiness...

2) Take all that gratitude and make it better for others. Give away things you don't want, don't use, or don't need to people who do need them. If you have some, donate time and money too.

3) Take all that gratitude and make it better for yourself: If you must shop on Black Friday, or for gifts, or at all, for that matter: do so with cash. Bury those credit cards deep in a block of ice, wedge them between the blades of a pair of scissors, light them on fire - whatever it takes. Invest in making yourself financially secure and stable. Give home-made and home-grown gifts, be honest when you can't afford more - you'll be surprised at how often your friends and family will understand and embrace your integrity.

4) Take all that gratitude and make it better for next year: Consider, again, what matters to you most. If you are a person who makes new years resolutions then use your gratitude to fuel your commitment. If you are thankful for your family, want to spend every second with them, then dedicate yourself to making more time - to turning off the TV and playing a game, to getting up earlier so you can eat breakfast together - or, to losing weight so your health will be better and your life longer.

Let your gratitude to be your guide, give to others so that they can be grateful, get rid of excess so you can focus on what matters - that is what I propose.

If you are looking at ways to find, express, or be more grateful consider joining my mentor, Sandi, from A Bloggable Life, in her experiences.

1 comment:

melissa said...

I loved this post. As a Canadian, I celebrate Thanksgiving in October and it is my favourite holiday because it goes unmarred by the commercialism that has crept into every other holiday on the calendar. We celebrate it for different reasons than Americans - it's a holiday to give thanks for the harvest. Still, as a Canadian living a few miles north of the Washington state border, I get the full onslaught of Black Friday advertising and it depresses me more than I can say. So much stuff that nobody really needs.