“Don’t spoil what you have by desiring what you don’t have; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for.” —Epicurus
Today, in the United States, we celebrate a holiday begun in 1789 by our first president, George Washington. In Washington’s proclamation the president stated: “this is a day of national thanksgiving and prayer.” A day for us to gather in remembrance and gratitude for all the blessings bestowed upon each of us, and for us, in prayer, to unite with our Creator as the one who has bestowed the blessings we now celebrate.
Thanksgiving traditionally begins that time of the year when we celebrate family, joy, peace and tradition as we head down the road to Christmas Day and later New Year’s Eve/day. During this time we recall those special moments we shared as a child; and now, as adults, we can again see that same joy, wonder and amazement through the eyes of children!
Remembering our past and viewing the present through the eyes of children hopefully returns us to a time when, in our innocence, we had a sense of awe and wonder about life. To once again ignite in us an already existing yearning to believe in things we may no longer believe as adults.
On Thanksgiving Day, many of us will be in a spirit of joy, peace and thankfulness. We recall all that we have, and cherish those with whom we have gathered. All is right in the world. Then comes the next day, Friday, the unfortunate other “holiday”, aptly termed “Black Friday” (although this year Black Friday now has an “eve”).
I am well aware of the origin of the term “Black Friday” in that it refers to the bottom-line budgetary profits for businesses selling goods. But, due to the behavior of shoppers, “Black Friday” is aptly termed. How many news stories will we see telling about chaos, fights, stabbings, shootings, thefts, as people swarm stores for “savings”. What happened to the joy and peace of Thanksgiving? What happened to the sense of thankfulness? What happened to the childhood innocence of wonder and believe? How is it that we have turned the holiday season of wonderment, joy and peace into darkness?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against consumerism nor capitalism. I too benefit from an economy based on people spending their money. My concern, rather, focuses on our perspective and intentions. Do the goods I feel I need take over my life? What are my priorities in life? Does family and faith come first or does my desire to acquire more things? In Christian scripture we read about Jesus speaking against money and physical goods, but it isn’t so much that Jesus is against money and goods, rather, Jesus challenges us to keep the proper perspective. In other words, do we put faith in our God or our things? What is more important in our life, our money and objects, or enjoying family, thanking God for what we have, and sharing with those in need.
This Thanksgiving how can we challenge ourselves to have faith in family and religion, foregoing the materialism? How can we, on a daily basis, spread that sense of wonderment and awe we had as a child to the rest of society? Remind yourself of the child-like sense of wonder, joy and peace. And once again, for a moment, be “child-like”.
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