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If you have not watched the movie “Idiocracy,” I implore you to endure it.  It’s a bad movie.  I’ll be honest.  It portrays the future 500 years from present day in a ridiculous and unbelievable light where the average person has a sub(zero)-par IQ and is easily influenced by a government run by morons and advertisements for junk food and sex.  However, when I read what’s making news these days, it scares the bejesus out of me how similar current events are with the writer’s idea of what the world would be if left to be run by the sheeple.  I love the movie more and more because I get to reference it when discussing our changing times (in this case for the worse), specifically, Wal-Mart, Target and Sears’ decision to begin their Black FRIDAY sales-o-rama on THURSDAY … THANKSGIVING THURSDAY! Who decided this?  What Scroogeish moron started this trend in retail?  People will leave their families on Thanksgiving Day to secure their place in a very long line (some in freezing temperatures) just to get a couple hundred dollars off the oversized flat screen.  I’m not going to preach about how we are a materialistic society and the need for simplification in our lives.  I will concede that many of us like our “things” and Christmas is a reason to get more, better and newer “things” — or so we try to justify and rationalize.  I will also express my disdain for Black Friday and say that it is a pitiful reflection on how self-centered and animalistic we have become in the need for “things.”

The stores exist to make money.  Plain and simple economics.  You cannot fault them for that.  But we, as a society, do not have to be enticed either by every marketing ploy they throw at us.  This includes luring us away from our Thanksgiving Day table with the proverbial carrot of saving a buck or two.  I appreciate a good sale just like everyone else.  I know some of these sales on Black Friday are ridiculously awesome, and if you want to queue in freezing temperatures with hundreds of other people to fight for that flat screen, that’s every bit your prerogative.  But why does American consumerism have to infringe on Thanksgiving?  Why can’t Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving and Black Friday be Black Friday?

The holidays mean different things to different people.  It’s the chance to see far-flung family members or the opportunity to avoid family by conveniently scheduling that vacation to, um, Aruba, yeah, Aruba.  It can be much-needed days away from the daily grind of the nine-to-five or that one day to indulge in all food cravings as a reward for the last six months of better eating habits, healthier choices and painfully sticking to that exhausting exercise schedule.  It could be an opportunity to exhibit your culinary prowess or to enjoy someone else’s.  Thanksgiving means more to some and less to others.  But whatever it is, above all, it is a day set aside to reflect on what we have (or in some cases what we don’t have) and feel and express gratitude.  Along the Paige Path, I have learned that expressing gratitude everyday is vital in maintaining that illusive glass-half-full attitude.  “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”  — Melody Beattie.  Please read that quote again.  It is so true.

I think about my childhood when if we forgot the canned cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner, we were just shit out of luck because THE GROCERY STORE WAS CLOSED ON THANKSGIVING!  Living in very rural south Louisiana, our gas stations were even closed.  So if you needed to put a little in the tank, you were screwed (or had to drive to a gas station “in town” that was closer to the interstate).  And guess what?  These weren’t terrible things.  They were tolerated inconveniences.  And back then, I don’t even think we thought of them as inconveniences, but more of “it is what it is.”  It was nice to know that the grocery store that was always open closed their doors for this day and that the employees were at home with their families enjoying the holiday, same as you.  It made the day more special knowing that we couldn’t pop on over to the Kroger’s to get ground sage for the cornbread dressing.  That’s what the neighbors are for!  Regularly opened businesses whose doors were closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas contributed to the quietness of the day where no one worried about shopping (especially for Christmas) and all we cared about was who in the hell ate the last piece of pecan pie and how we never had enough Tupperware for all the leftovers.  A stillness.  Where did that stillness go?

I am just saddened 1) that these companies infringe on Thanksgiving with their pre-sale in the name of the Almighty Dollar and 2) that many people are excited about this development.  In a world where you start seeing Christmas decorations in October alongside plastic spiders and fake blood for Halloween, must we suffer Black Friday glomming onto Thanksgiving too?

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