With television, radio and the Internet constantly bombarding us with admonitions to buy, buy, buy, the not-so-subtle message is that it is impossible to live a fulfilled life without all the latest and greatest things.
It is remarkable that we continue to set aside one day a year to express a greater sense of gratitude for the aspects of life that money seldom can buy.
For some, Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate the overindulgent consumption of food but for most, it remains a time to count our wider arc of blessings. There is the love of family and friends, the comfort of living in safe and compassionate communities, the acknowledgement of the miracle witnessed of the bounties brought by yet another year. For all these things, we give thanks.
At the same time, however, we acknowledge that, for all our blessings, there still are far too many people for whom the basics of food security, adequate shelter and gainful employment are not available. Helping others realize a better life is part of the commitment needed to create true community. That is what the “giving” part of the holiday is all about.
There is endless irony that the day after we gather to celebrate our most noble esoteric blessings has become a time to revel in rampant materialism. It almost seems that Black Friday has become a cudgel with which to beat down one of the last vestiges of the traditional expression of our better natures. For employees of those big box stores forced to work on Thanksgiving itself, that dynamic is far too personal.
Thanksgiving, then, is not only a time to count our blessings and to commit ourselves to aiding the less fortunate, but also a time to reflect on our priorities, to consider where our energies, our hearts, and our minds will dwell in the year ahead.