Thursday, November 22, 2007

where has the "thanks" in thanksgiving gone?

almost 400 years ago (1621) in massachusetts, the plymouth colonists & wampanoag indians shared an autumn harvest feast which is *acknowledged* as one of the first thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. this harvest meal has become a symbol of cooperation & interaction between english colonists & native americans. although this feast is considered by many to be the very first thanksgiving celebration, it was actually in keeping with a long tradition of celebrating the harvest & giving thanks for a successful bounty of crops. native american groups throughout the americas, including the pueblo, cherokee, creek & many others organized harvest festivals, ceremonial dances, & other celebrations of thanks for centuries before the arrival of europeans in north america.

thanksgiving does still bring family & friends together; just ask anyone on I-35 yesterday heading to dallas. however, what people talk about & focus on appears to be all about consuming as much food as possible & then gearing up to shop ‘til you drop the very next day.

how much food will we eat? americans will consume nearly 45 million turkeys this thanksgiving. 300 million (U.S. population) / 45 million = 1 turkey for 6.6 people (a typical family gathering). top that with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes smothered in marshmallows, green bean & spinach casseroles, stuffing, & endless sweets (pumpkin pie, apple pie, cobbler, pecan pie, etc.). and you think it’s the tryptophan in that turkey that makes you tired… not true, just ask any nutritionist. you’d have to eat 2 – 3 whole turkeys for the tryptophan to kick in. after stuffing ourselves we can retire to the sofa for football.

when the game goes to commercial, the marketers are hard at work enticing us with “deals” in an attempt to bring us to the stores tomorrow, black friday they call it. some stores will actually open at midnight (tanger outlet mall in san marcos), while the majority will open sometime between 4am & 7am; still ridiculous shopping hours. the local news this evening was actually covering people waiting outside stores such as best buy as of 7am this morning. that’s 22 hours prior to the store opening tomorrow at 5am. all day long commercials are playing. we hear messages like, “get an early start tomorrow & save big.” can you imagine a world where the message was something like, “get an early start tomorrow & enjoy a long walk, read a book, get a workout in, or volunteer?” hard to imagine huh?

this isn't what this day is supposed to be about. today's isn't meant to be a day that we spend stuffing ourselves & then racing to stores the very next day to buy things in preparation for another popular day that attempts to turn us all into greedy consumers.

how do we simplify this day back to the way it started? how do we switch the focus back to gathering with our family & friends & being thankful that we can put food on the table, that we have our health, that we have out freedom, that we live in this great land, & that we have one another?

we can start by not running to the stores tomorrow. i can assure you that i won’t be playing their game.

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