While today is nationally celebrated as Thanksgiving, today is also special in our household as it is my daughter’s third birthday. To make sure she has a special day all to herself, though, we will be celebrating on Saturday. More than anything else she wants, including a Doc McStuffins doll and a live puppy (sorry kid, so not happening), she keeps informing me, “I want Paris home for my party.” I was also told, “Guess what, Momma? Paris is my cousin, but she is also my best friend. I want Paris at my party.”
I still haven’t had the heart to tell my daughter that Paris can’t make it home for her party because she’s too young to travel without her mom and we don’t get to see Aunt Kelly over the Thanksgiving holidays -- ever.
Once my sister took a management job for a popular retail chain, that was the end of our whole family sitting around a table eating turkey and drinking cheap wine. Black Friday became the outranking, capitalist celebration that pulled my sibling away from her family. It has been more than five years since she has shared a table with us for Thanksgiving.
|We must buy all the things! Buy all the things!|
Despite not being able to drive the distance to be with family as she had to be ready for a seven am opening -- then a five am opening -- then a midnight opening -- at least she has been able to cook her own small feast for her immediately family. This year, however, she must be at the store overseeing sales on Thanksgiving Day itself. I don’t blame her employer for this decision, though. I blame the whole of society.
When did we decide that saving a few dollars is more important than building memories with our families? When did we place consumerism above companionship and camaraderie? With each passing year, it seems that more of our traditional values are tossed aside or burned up in fiery flames of greed. Perhaps I believe this simply because I am aging. Maybe it’s me that is changing, rather than the world about me. I don’t believe that one bit though.
While change is inevitable and can often be positive, this change was avoidable and is most certainly negative. The choice to open store doors on Thanksgiving is an ugly mutation of traditional American values. Who would rather be at a Best Buy pushing a cart through gathering crowds when she could be seated next to a warm fire with a glass of hard cider in one hand and her other hand holding onto her parent or partner? Who would rather storm his way through the sliding glass doors of Wal-Mart for a large screen TV when he could be cheering on his favorite team with his family? Aren't we suppose to be thankful for the blessings we already have instead of trying to acquire more, more, more?
I know not everyone has a perfect family, and most Thanksgiving memories don’t play out as they do in Butterball commercials or Lifetime movies. I have a grandmother that will complain about all the damn dishes piling up, and I have a drunken uncle that will make inappropriate jokes and curse in front of my young kids. Still, I would far rather have these moments than be tramping through crowded parking lots for a bargain. Money can’t buy the things that we should really treasure most in life -- family, friends, and laughter. I can’t buy back the sister I will be missing this Thanksgiving.
|That Furby is mine, bitch!|
Most importantly to me, though, is the thought of my disappointed young daughter. While she will be opening up a Doc McStuffins doll, she will desperately be missing her cousin and best friend. I can’t give her the gift she most wants because our society places more value on objects than relationships.
I want my sister and my niece home to celebrate Thanksgiving and my daughter’s birthday, and that’s why I want you to reconsider what you most value in life. Is your emphasis in the right place? Should you be putting on your coat and picking up your purse, leaving your family in pursuit of a great bargain? Or, rather – maybe, just maybe -- should you stick around until the last piece of pumpkin pie? Should you stay and speak with your aging grandmother, even though she’s told the same stories repeatedly all afternoon? Should you eat, laugh, and be merry? That’s what I intend to do, and so my Thanksgiving wish is that you choose to make merry with your loved ones too. Choose connections with friends and family instead of surrounding yourself with strangers in crowded stores. If enough of us make that choice – maybe, just maybe -- we can restore what’s right and I can see my sister again.