Its that time of year: crisp and cool mornings, children kicking through leaves scattered about the lawn, football stadiums packed with cheering fans, parades with marching bands and the smell of turkey baking in the oven. Once again, after the COVID interruption, laughter fills our homes where family and friends gather around the table. I like Thanksgiving and everything that goes with it: cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and pie (any kind of pie). And I like dressing. Those with southern roots cook corn bread dressing. Turkeys come and turkeys go, but my wife’s corn bread dressing is to die for. She learned the recipe from her mother: corn bread, celery, onions, chopped boiled eggs, broth, butter and other ingredients I will never figure out. With giblet gravy, it is a meal-in-itself.
After missing the third quarter of the Thanksgiving ball game we regain consciousness enough to stumble into the kitchen for leftovers, load up again, and sleep the sound sleep of a thankful soul. By Friday the tryptophan and carbohydrates have worn off. And now we are ready to get on with the real business of the American holiday season: shopping.
Black Friday isn’t what it was. Online shopping and some stores opening their doors on Thursday have taken some of the zap out of it. At its peak, lines would form in front of Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target on Friday long before the first gray light of day. A few spent the night camped out in tents on concrete sidewalks. Our pilgrim fathers knew nothing of this. They hunted and harvested and cleaned and cooked, but they never stood in lines in front of glass doors waiting for the opening bell. They never rushed through aisles searching for treasures that were sure to disappear. They never stood in check out lines that stretched to the back of the store. They had it easy.
Fifty years ago, we eased into Christmas. No one had heard of Black Friday. We used Friday to digest the Thanksgiving feast. It was a quiet day, the day after we gathered at Grandma’s with cousins and kin. Christmas decorations were not yet up. We savored the season. But today, we are jolted from Thanksgiving into Christmas.
Black Friday seems to symbolize our rush through life, our efforts to get the best deal, to be first in line. It seems to represent the commercialization of Christmas and threatens to turn Thanksgiving into a season of “thanks getting.” Don’t get me wrong. I like a good deal and deep discounts. I want the American economy to thrive. But, along the way, I hope we cultivate a thankful heart and grateful spirit that is not measured by the sum of what we can get at the cheapest price.
May the words of the Apostle Paul echo in our heart throughout the holiday season, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15).