Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday Weekend

Here we are on Black Friday weekend. The weekend that immediately follows the holiday of it’s antithesis, Thanksgiving. In my family, we spend Thanksgiving Day with as many family members as possible, maybe invite a friend or two who might not have family nearby with whom to share a feast, and we feast. We feast on food preparation, on being together, on stories, on working together to create a food feast, and eventually on food, more food than is generally reasonable for the numbers of people seated around our table. It is a holiday that we have all come to deeply appreciate and look forward to. We feel the loss if some of the usual participants are unable to find their way to this, our most celebrated family gathering and holiday. We have all come to understand that if we have to choose to try to make it to either Thanksgiving or Christmas, we’ll try harder for Thanksgiving! It is understood that giving thanks while joining for the mere sake of gathering and appreciating one another’s company, that setting table together and sharing in the festivities of appreciating our lives that have lovingly come together by some combination of chance and effort, is enough. We appreciate, we are grateful, we share, we feast; there is contentment.

It is my experience, in the limited world that I live in, that most people would agree with my family’s experience of Thanksgiving. The holiday of celebrating our simple abundances and the ability to break bread and carve turkey together is by far the most satisfying holiday of the year. And yet as a culture, society, and a nation, we have this phenomenon of “Black Friday”, the day that leads up to a weekend, and then a month of the most spending, shopping, and consuming of the entire year. For some reason, this year the juxtaposition of Black Friday being immediately after the day of celebrated gratitude struck me with a poignancy that I have not really appreciated quite like this before. Gratitude means: This is enough; I am happy and whole. Intense consumerism means: I need more; this is not enough, something is missing; spending money might make me happy and whole. We move from contentment to allowing ourselves to be goaded into spending, and usually spending well beyond our means. Why do we do this??

I suspect that the answer to this sad question lies somewhere in the depths of our truths that we don’t always share, either with ourselves or with our loved ones. We gather to commune, offer joy, thanks, and love to one another. And yet, somehow as we are expressing our thanks, voicing our gratitude, most of us still have this place of, “something’s missing”, that we can’t ever quite take care of. The market place understands this very well, and usually with a great deal of success steers us into opening up our wallets to help us find our wholeness through material gifting. It is when the marketers understand this deep hole inside of us better than we do, that we are the most vulnerable to their methods. This holiday, don’t fool yourself into believing that you are fully whole, and just need to go out of your way to overspend because it is fun and what you want to do! Take the time to understand that little something, somewhere near your heart, that needs nurturing, and challenge yourself to find ways to nurture it that won’t require you to go into deep debt!

With love and gratitude, here’s wishing you a deeply fulfilling holiday season!