Much as I think a Thanksgiving turkey didn’t belong under the Jewish tent for Chanukah, neither do I think one belongs under a camping tent in front of a big box store. So forgive me if both of my “Thanksgivukkah” posts are bit edgy. But there’s a minor Facebook meme that popped up in the past week, and I happen to agree with it. It goes something like this:
“I’m using the day when we celebrate the wonderful things we already have in our lives by camping out in front of Best Buy to buy more things that I don’t have yet.”
That’s gratitude for you. Now I’m no Christian pilgrim on Thanksgiving, nor do I celebrate the robbery of First Peoples’ land. And it’s important to understand where Thanksgiving came from and the implications thereof. However, a holiday dilemma only exists if you choose to have one, and of course most Americans–me included–embrace Thanksgiving as a time for coming together with family and friends of all persuasions to reflect with a sense of gratitude on the people and good things in our lives.
It’s a good bet that’s how you started Thanksgiving this year–sitting at a communal table of loved ones and gorging on a turkey and trimmings. If your day ended with you in line for J.C. Penney or under a tent in front of Best Buy, I wonder if you considered how much of a hypocrite you are?
You really cannot have it both ways. You’re either grateful for what you’ve got, or you aren’t. If you aren’t, why lie to the people you love? “Your collective love fills me up, and what a wonderful thing that is for us all to treasure” doesn’t seem to mean as much when it’s followed by an early exit to stand in a queue to fling people out of your way to get a killer deal on a flat panel. But maybe that’s just me.
Actually, no, it’s not just me. That’s really kind of pathetic. We either live intentional lives or we sleepwalk through them. Every thing we say and do has meaning both personal and to other people who figure in the contexts of our lives.
And why were you standing in that department store queue on Thursday evening, anyway? To make sure the people who you just blew off at the Thanksgiving table after telling them you loved them would really, really believe that you loved them when Christmas Day rolled around.
Think about that. Now I’m no Christmas-hating Jew. I love a multicultural holiday season like you would not believe. But even before I converted, this is how I felt. If you want the people in your life to believe you truly love them, all you need to do is two things:
1. Truly love them.
2. Actually demonstrate it.
What you shouldn’t do is send mixed messages about it. In this case, the message all you Black Thursday shoppers really sent was that your love of things is greater than your love of people. No, really. Sometimes the truth hurts, you hypocrite.
For all of you who shared Thanksgiving with those you love and stayed until the end, I salute the collective measure of your hearts, which is awesomely huge. Everyone else, were you in the context of my life, there would absolutely, positively be no future invitation for maple-bacon turkey for you. You might actually get kicked out before dinner.
And if you think I’m being humorous about that, I assure you people who know me personally for the past few seconds have already been picturing me doing that to some ungrateful schmuck. As far as I’m concerned, they had it coming.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.