Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.
It is a day where families and friends take a few hours to gather around and enjoy good food, good conversation and a good time. A day where we set aside our schedules and stressful to-do lists to bask in contentment and relish the simple things in life: food, relationships and perhaps football (if your family is similar to mine).
I can remember waking up Thanksgiving morning as a little girl and rushing out to the living room to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. I loved watching the performers and giant inflatable characters float around the city. I still do.
Once I got older, I traded in lounging on the couch for helping my mom whip up Thanksgiving dinner. Together we make the family’s favorite dishes, and while the objective is to get the meal on the table, we have fun doing it. Cooking and baking with Mom is not just cooking and baking. We are laughing, we are sharing our hearts and we are growing closer together.
And while Thanksgiving can sometimes bring some unwanted stress (potato skins breaking the sink disposal, a tire popping on the way to dinner…), I would not trade it for anything.
What a wonderful time for families to take a few moments to be thankful.
Then, after the food is eaten, the football games are over and the dishes are stacked in the sink, we tend to think it is a perfect time to rush to the nearest mall and shove fellow shoppers while we secure Black Friday shopping items.
The irony of Thanksgiving followed by Black Friday shopping honestly makes me sick. After spending a few hours being thankful, we quickly make the transition to fighting over electronics and shoes we just “have” to have.
Shopping is not wrong. In fact, Black Friday shopping in itself is not necessarily wrong. Often, it is when individuals go shopping for Christmas gifts for their loved ones.
Black Friday shopping goes awry when people forget to treat others like human beings. Here are a few interesting facts about Black Friday shopping:
- More people are killed annually during Black Friday shopping than are killed in shark attacks.
Between 2006-2015, seven people died and 98 were injured in Black Friday-related incidents. While stampedes and impatient crowds are typically the cause, a shooting broke out at a California Toys R Us in 2009, resulting in the deaths of both gunmen. Toys. R. Us.
According to National Geographic, there is an average of 19 shark attacks each year, with an average of one death resulting every two years. Let that sink in.
- Black Friday shopping attracts more people than Disneyland.
Yes, Americans spend more time Black Friday shopping than they do at Disney vacation spots. Wal-Mart alone attracted 22 million people on Thanksgiving Day in 2014, beating the 18.5 million people who visit Disney World every year, and even the 16 million who visit Disneyland.
- It’s not just on Friday anymore.
Notice in the fact above, Wal-Mart attracted 22 million people on Thanksgiving, not Black Friday. Stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and JC Penney have begun opening their doors at 6, 5 and even 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Once again, there is nothing inherently wrong with shopping, but at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving? Come on.
As the years go by, it is as if Americans become more and more complacent to the meaning of Thanksgiving. It does not take a genius to figure out what ‘thanksgiving’ means, but every year we lose sight of its definition.
Thanksgiving does not mean to be thankful for a few hours and then jump back in to wanting more. I believe the intention of Thanksgiving is to reset our focus on the things that should be most important in our lives: the people we love.
This Thanksgiving, try to focus on the literal meaning of the day and take time to truly give thanks and be grateful for the people you have in your life.