Al Everson MUG

Al Everson

Am I the only one in this country or on this planet who detests the crass materialism and hypercommercialism that marks this season of the year?

Does anyone care to observe Thanksgiving as a day of gratitude to heaven and to others for the blessings we enjoy? Or must Thanksgiving be merely a kickoff of the Christmas-shopping season? Is it asking too much to take at least one day in the year to be truly thankful for what we have, without stoking our desire for more things?

There was once a time, not all that long ago, when Thanksgiving was a rather quiet day to spend with family and friends, perhaps including a football game or two, and to celebrate the bountiful goodness we have been given.

No longer. Thanksgiving has become little more than just the eve of Black Friday, and some big-box stores are cashing in by opening their doors and offering “special” Christmas deals, transforming the holiday into a buying frenzy for shoppers who simply cannot or will not rein in their lust for things.

Some ultra-committed consumers will even stake out their place in line at stores days in advance of Thanksgiving, camping out on sidewalks and parking lots to be first to get a big-screen TV or some electronic toy that they “must have” at the “special” price. People will sometimes knock each other down or trample on one another to be first to get their item from a limited supply at the “low” price. The mad rush is on.

At the risk of sounding like a killjoy, what does all the Christmas rush have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ?

Must we sacrifice Thanksgiving on the altar of materialism? Years ago, I read that “one of the surest ways to make life empty is to fill it with things.” The longer I live, the more convinced I am of the truth of that observation.

One thing I have noticed recently is the increasing number of mini-warehouses, where people who have already filled their garages with their earthly goods rent space to store an ever-increasing volume of stuff that they probably do not need. We stockpile so much stuff we do not know where to put it.

There is an alternative. If you really care about Thanksgiving, start thinking about it not just as a holiday, but rather a lifestyle of gratitude to the Creator and those around you. You can abstain from the stampede of those who cannot satisfy their desire for more and more gadgets and things.

This Thanksgiving, take time to ponder the meaning of the day. Count your blessings, and share what you have with those less fortunate.