Black Friday? or Thanksgiving Thursday?Deciding What Really Matters

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday? or Thanksgiving Thursday?

Deciding What Really Matters

The days leading up to Thanksgiving always make me feel like such a curmudgeon. I really love the Thanksgiving holiday: it's an opportunity to remember all the many reasons why, despite the ills and challenges we sometimes face, we are still among the most blessed people on the planet. As a recent research study reminds us (see my "Parenting with Cheryl Erwin" Facebook page for details), gratitude is good for us. People who regularly count their blessings experience health benefits, have stronger relationships, and generally feel more positive about their lives than those who don't. 

Still, the airwaves are jammed with advertising pushing people out their doors and into the malls. I always thought Thanksgiving night was designed for groaning on the counch about how much pumpkin and pecan pie you ate, but this year stores are opening Thanksgiving night for "door buster" sales. People are planning Black Friday parties, getting up at 3 a.m., and lining up outside the big-box store of their choice for irresistible bargains. Whether anyone really needs the items they will be purchasing is open for debate. After all, as our legislators and the newscasters remind us, spending is good. Apparently, the health of the nation depends directly on how much each of us spends on Black Friday.

Yikes. My idea of Thanksgiving is a bit different. I believe it deserves an entire day, unfettered by advertising and pressure to start Christmas early. So here, in no particular order, are some random thoughts about Thanksgiving and gratitude in general.

* Figure out what matters. Sit down with your family and friends and decide what is worth doing. You do not "have to" do anything. You can dispense with Aunt Margaret's incredibly involved casserole if no one really loves eating it; instead, use the time to connect with your family members. 

* Focus on relationships. Smile; tell family stories. Laugh as much as you can. Look at old photos, and encourage Grandma and Grandpa to tell those stories again about when they were courting, and what you did when you were a naughty three-year-old. Look around you, and remember to be thankful for the fact that you're breathing clean air and enjoying another day of life. 

* Think carefully about what you spend money on. Yes, money matters, to our economy and to each individual family. Do your best not to get caught up in the Black Friday frenzy; instead, perhaps you could spend time making gifts together, offering service to your community, or spending gift money wisely on things people truly need.

* Remember, wants and needs are not the same thing. (See previous item.)

* What do you want your children to learn and to decide as a result of this Thanksgiving holiday? That love equals money and heaps of presents? Or that what matters is time spent together, listening and laughing and learning?

The decision is yours. I, for one, am wishing all of you a generous, warm, and blessed Thanksgiving Day. 

| Posted by cheryl | Wednesday, November 23, 2011|


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