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Thankful for Black Friday?

Thanksgiving … the blessed day of consumption where we gather with our friends and family and celebrate all we have and what we are thankful for. Aside from the standard over-eating that has become a staple of this holiday, I have noticed a few other traditions standard to my family. They are (in order of importance): dessert (pumpkin and pecan pies with what I think was a peach cobbler), the Turkey Bowl (the family football game that puts father against son, mother against daughter and ibuprofen in each adult), and the White Elephant exchange (my sister got a garden gnome riding a frog this year).

And then there’s one more tradition, though I have a hard time calling it a tradition. I don’t enjoy it; I don’t participate in it, yet it happens every year—the morning after Thanksgiving. Yes, I’m talking about Black Friday, the day when thousands of shoppers camp outside stores and beat each other in attempts to get $3 DVDs and Plasma Screens at 75 percent off. Each year my Grandma and aunts high tail it into town at four in the morning to cash in on the deals that make us surprisingly unthankful on Thanksgiving, and it is this that interests me.

The majority of talk around the dinner table this Thanksgiving didn’t involve what we were thankful for. It instead revolved around the newspaper advertisements for deals at Best Buy and Circuit City. On a day so devoted to remembering our blessings and all that we’ve been given, we stared at colored advertisements pointing out what we want and not what we’ve been given. I honestly expected my younger cousins to chime in, “I’m thankful for Black Friday and all its blessings.”

I lost my Dad a little less than a month ago; he was 50. Thanksgiving is the first holiday I’ve experienced without his laughter, his inspiration and his encouragement. This was a holiday that I truly did want to encompass his character—a day about family, a day about friends and a day thanking God for all he’s blessed us with. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. Somehow we, myself included, have once again managed to make things about us: what we want, what we don’t have or what we didn’t get.

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I’m hopelessly and beautifully human, and it shows. I don’t think it is at all a bad thing to get good deals on Christmas gifts or to wake up at unnatural hours of the morning to get them. I would be quick to say how ridiculous it is to ever think these mere things to be of high importance, but believe me I’ve seen how easily I can place these things above what I’ve been given: life, love, family, friends, a home and a savior. My heart is selfish and my desires torn with the offers of this world, whether it’s ambition, sex, money or Die Hard II for $3. But we have such a greater offer and that is something to be thankful for.

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