For several years now, I’ve been incredibly lucky and grateful to have spent Thanksgiving with close family and friends away from the crazy, massive, gluttoness consumption of Black Friday. And, with Black Friday expanding earlier into the actual Thursday of Thanksgiving, it makes me sad to hear of the stories of employees having to be away from their families and go to work in mostly the big box retailers. It makes me even more sad to hear of shootings and fights that happen in store lines, or when people can’t get their discount on their flat screen TV or computer. And really sad to hear of the masses of people believing that this is the only best time to buy stuff! (Reminds me of a quote from Thoreau: “There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”)
But, what REALLY bothered me is something I read in an article via the AP today about Black Friday called: Black Friday Deals Lure Shoppers Earlier Than Ever.
The entire article is about consumption and people trying to buy their happiness with products. This this small section summed it up perfectly (emphasis mine).
“You have to have these things to enjoy your children and your family,” said Jackson’s friend Ebony Jones, who had secured two laptops ($187.99 each) for her 7 and 11 year olds.
Why must we buy? To demonstrate our love for others? To add a few more inches to our televisions? To help America recover from a vicious recession that itself was born of the desire for more?
Such questions make Jones wince. “It shouldn’t be that way, but in a sense there’s no way around it,” said Jones, a nurse. “Everything ends up with a dollar amount. Even your happiness.“
I can’t believe people think they have to buy laptops or other thneeds to enjoy their children and their families. Seriously, people spending money on things to bring their families together, when really, it will more greatly isolate their children and family!
This is why I’m eternally grateful to spend time with family and friends in a remote location in Wyoming where there’s no stores, malls or movies and sometimes questionable cell service and internet. What there is plenty of, of course, is food, friends, family, fun and sometimes fly fishing.
This is really what Thanksgiving is about, not rampant commercialism. A new $187.99 laptop isn’t buying happiness – at least not true happiness that brings a family closer together. Products don’t bring families together and make them happy. Experiences do. Opportunities to experience life together do. Finding things to do together brings happiness and families together. Fly fishing with my good friend in the icy current of the Platte River in Wyoming on Thanksgiving day makes me eternally happy (as do hikes, campfire lunches, hanging out and sunsets).
Next Thanksgiving, take a break from Black Friday and do something fun as a family, and maybe save your shopping for Cyber Monday… I’m sure you’ll be much happier!