Let’s call a big thing a big thing

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Well it is almost here, the November day everyone looks forward to all month and some people wait for all year. The advertisements are everywhere; the excitement is building. If we can just get through tomorrow, that bump in the road called Thanksgiving Day, the main event arrives at last.

If commercials are an indication of how we are supposed to think about this holiday, we need to stop saying Thanksgiving Day and, as Iyanla Vanzant says, “call a thing a thing,” and call the day set aside for giving thanks what it’s become, Black Friday Eve.

Now I confess I am not a shop-at-the-crack-of-dawn person on any day, so Black Friday holds no particular attraction for me. However, for those who enjoy the chase and battle for bargains, I understand it is a great day and I have no problem with it. (I do take a little issue with the places that are opening on Thanksgiving Day — you can take one day off people.)

What I do think is sad is how Thanksgiving is getting lost in all the hoopla. How many commercials have you seen for turkey and pumpkin pies? Seen any ads reminding you that the doors open at midnight Thursday for a day of expressing gratitude?

Someone posted something that said it pretty well. I do not remember the exact words, but it was something like, “Black Friday — the day people shop for a lot of stuff they don’t really need after the day they are supposed to give thanks for the stuff they already have.”

Why does skipping over Thanksgiving matter? It’s one day, one day out of the year that is designated as a time to stop and give thanks, a space of 24 hours to be aware of our blessings. It’s a day with family and friends for no purpose other than acknowledging the gift of being together and appreciating the abundance in our lives.

That matters, I think, because we live in a world in great need of taking time to give thanks for blessings rather than focusing so much energy on all the things that are wrong or lacking. This is especially true in a country where we enjoy so many gifts, where even the poorest among us lives far better than people in many places in the world.

When I was a child, I loved the Thanksgiving holiday. I liked imagining that first Thanksgiving Day when very different people came together in gratitude. I felt comforted and blessed sitting at a food-filled table as Daddy read the 100th Psalm and voiced a prayer of thanks.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalms 100

It felt right for a thankful time to usher in the season of love and giving known as Christmas. And, there was no such thing as Black Friday.

I know times change and celebrations evolve with the generations. Still, I think we will lose something that is nourishment for the soul if Thanksgiving gets lost in the race to Black Friday.

So, I’ll close with a quote that is a good practice not only for Thanksgiving Day but also for every day, including Black Friday.

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.