Friday, November 19, 2010

On Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States. It's always been one of my favorite holidays: a day dedicated to giving thanks, appreciating what we have. Years ago, I started a tradition for myself of taking a walk on Thanksgiving Day, and it's typically a lovely excursion: the slow pace of a day off, the mellow November light, the sense of the land easing itself into wintry sleep.

It's also one of the few holidays that hasn't had a lot of commercial hype. Aside from the extra food most of us indulge in for this annual feast, we haven't been expected to buy much of anything.

In recent years, that's been changing. The day after Thanksgiving, traditionally called "Black Friday" because of all the black ink this heavy shopping day brings to store ledgers, has become more and more hyped. Now there are special sales with people lining up in the wee hours of the morning so they can stampede into a store and buy stuff. I've even heard of one store that, this year, is opening for Black Friday shopping while it's still Thanksgiving Day.

I'm not going to go into an anti-shopping rant here. I'm not against shopping and I'm not much of a ranter. I'm not against Black Friday per se. But these are my wishes for us: that we keep Thanksgiving a holiday for community, celebration, and contemplation of our own good fortune. And that we can carry some of the moments of slowing down and counting our blessings into the days that follow it.