Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't Let Consumerism Eat Your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is Thursday. (You probably know this unless you inhabit a dwelling tucked under a rock somewhere.  And if you do, more power to you, 'cause I'm a little jealous.)  Thanksgiving marks the beginning of both my favorite and absolute least favorite time of the year...the Christmas season.

Ah Christmastime...that beautiful time of year where we can cozy up around a fireplace, sip hot chocolate, and enjoy the warmth of family and deep friendships.  Because it tends to be cold outside we seem to appreciate the warmth that is inside just a little more than we usually do.  The warmth of a home-cooked meal.  The warmth of family ties and traditions passed down through generations.  The warmth of roasted marshmallows and smiling happy children.  The warmth of wool socks and comfortable sweaters.

The season makes me truly thankful for all of the wonderful blessings in my life.  In that regard it's pretty appropriate that the season kick-off with a great family holiday like Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving might be the ultimate family holiday...a holiday filled with murmured prayers of thanks by family gathered to break bread together.  It's a time to sit back and count blessings...real blessings.

If I could have all of this without the ugly side of Christmas, I would be a happy human being.

Ugly side of Christmas?  What the heck are you talking about?  There's nothing ugly about Christmas.  Christmas is all joy, and peace on earth, and goodwill to humanity...

Oh, how I wish it were so.  But Christmas has a darker side, and it feels like that darker side grows darker and more difficult to resist every year.  With Christmas comes the Christmas shopping season, and fetid stench of consumerism.

People spending money they don't have on things they don't need (often to impress people they don't even like).  Because it's what we're supposed to do this time of year.  It's called "the joy of giving"...but it gives us little joy compared to the eventual misery of the debt that is incurred (indenturing us to our banking and credit card masters).

In this sense, perhaps Thanksgiving is also the perfect start to the consumer season.  What better way to prepare for the season of excess than to gorge ourselves on a feast of thousands of calories that we will most likely regret in the morning (and if not by morning, certainly by New Year's Day).

After the exorbitance that is our Turkey Day meal,  people venture out en masse to big box retail hell-holes, risking life and limb to "save" a few bucks on the latest gaming system or smart phone or other trivial trinket the manufacturers have programmed us to believe that we "need".  Like cattle drunk on capitalist hysteria, fattened and fed, they wait in line and lumber through the gates in some ritualistic running of the bulls, trampling one another in the process.  All of their thanksgiving hushed and forgotten under the cries of consumerism.  Spend, spend, spend!  Buy, buy, buy!

In the very spirit of consumerism, which...well...consumes...Black Friday was not enough.  Consumerism, like the cannibal that it is, is currently attempting to eat Thanksgiving.  The spending spree begins earlier and earlier every year, with many retailers open early on Thanksgiving Day.  (Of course no one really noticed,  They were too busy fighting over buy one get one free sweaters.)  Nothing is sacred.  That's why little old ladies get trampled.  Consumerism is nothing if not selfish and destructive.

And who are we trying to impress with all of those flashy new toys anyway?

Here's a novel idea.  Instead of cutting Thanksgiving dinner short to stampede out to the nearest mall, instead of throwing money into shiny new iPhones and Xbox Ones, just stay right were you are.  Have another piece of mom's pie.  Play some cards with your family.  Start a game of touch football in the yard.  These are the things that will matter to you in ten years (by which time the technology that inspired you to go out and hunt for the best deals will be long since obsolete).

Create memories instead of debt.  Give gifts that are thoughtful and heartfelt (maybe even handmade) rather than expensive.  Even better, give the gift of your time, especially to your children.  Because the best things in life aren't things at all.  The best thing is life itself.  I intend to live it to it's fullest and that does NOT include the consumer orgy that is Black Friday and it's subsequent Christmas sales.

Somebody pass me another piece of pie.

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