This is the week of Thanksgiving. I know I don’t need to tell you that, but I ask you, “Have you heard much about Thanksgiving, what it means, and why we celebrate it?” I haven’t. What I have heard is commercial after commercial about Black Friday.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a shopper and I like a good deal as much as anyone around. I love giving great gifts that don’t put me in debt for the rest of the year.
But I grew up celebrating the holidays. On Veteran’s Day, we honored the men and women who fought for our Freedom—it wasn’t set aside as a day to buy. Easter was a Christian holiday and we celebrated by going to church and then doing the Easter Bunny stuff when we got home. It was not set aside as a day to buy. Independence day brought family picnics, fireworks and remembering the preciousness of our freedom. The only thing advertised was fireworks. Thanksgiving came and with it came a gathering of family and friends to enjoy that amazing meal and each other. If someone didn’t have a place to go, they were always welcome to join us. But we didn’t go shopping that day.
After Thanksgiving, we began to anticipate Christmas. We knew we celebrated the birth of Christ and we knew there would also be a Christmas tree and lots of gifts. Shopping for sweet surprises for each other was a great part of the fun. Each gift had meaning. But there were no sales extravaganzas.
I could elaborate on each holiday, but you get the idea. We celebrated the holiday and what it meant and stood for. Family members came from all over to be together at Thanksgiving and Christmas and the gifts under the tree were special but they were not the “whole deal.”
The celebration of consumerism
Now we celebrate consumerism. Sales and deep discounts are now associated with every holiday. Every holiday is an opportunity to buy, buy, buy.
We have been hearing about Black Friday sales since before Halloween. The commercials are increasing in intensity and frequency. Black Friday sales have already started online and some stores are announcing that they will open to start their sales on Thanksgiving evening. We hear very little about the importance of the holiday and why we celebrate it. We hear a lot about 40% to 50% discounts. (Did they mark it up so they could give such a discount? Many of us ask that question.)
So instead of enjoying your family after that amazing dinner, we’re supposed to gather our family around us and hit the stores? Or the computer.
Instead of Black Friday, why don’t we have Black Saturday so we can at least enjoy Thanksgiving?
The Importance of holiday traditions
I believe that holidays are important and I’m not alone.
According to Michele Brennan, Psy.D. celebrating the holidays establishes family traditions which are important in binding us together as a family.
An article in Psychology Today states:
In today’s world, these holiday traditions are likely to be even more important than ever before. Why? Because in our remarkably fast paced and changing world, holiday traditions may offer an important organizing and centering experience and a foil to a life full of constant change. In our often chaotic, discombobulating, and frantic world, having long held holiday traditions that offer important connections to and continuity with the past and to each other is critically important.
Don’t we need this?
- Strengthened families
- Continuity from past to present to future that offers a feeling of stability
- Building “warm fuzzy” memories to savor when the tough times come
- Days filled with the joy of anticipation, loud laughter, and reminiscing?
- And more…
If your family gatherings don’t have this, perhaps you can start some new traditions with your own family and circle of friends. They don’t have to be “the way we’ve always done it” but they do need to “BE” If you don’t have “warm fuzzy” memories, now is the time for you to create some.
Think about what gift-giving means to you before you rush out to hit the sales. Why do YOU do it? Is it done as an expression of love or is it because it’s expected? What would happen if you called a family meeting and talked about it and made your own rules about the gift exchange?
But now, it’s time to make the cranberry sauce and peel the sweet potatoes. That’s what I’m taking to the family dinner. Shopping can wait.