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Demonstrate Thankfulness

I love pumpkin pie. Understandably, it isn’t for everyone, but this time of year is, much like deer hunting and scarves, pumpkin season. Layers of clothing are stacking, heating bills are rising, and soon enough, decorative, multicolored lights will have to be frustratingly untangled. It is the holiday season. All of these possibly irritating seasonal additions to daily life aside, this is a time of joy and positivity for many Americans. From late November through the beginning of the New Year, many people celebrate both National and varying Religious holidays. For me, it’s all about the pumpkin pie.

Every year, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The food, football, family, left overs, everything jammed into one day makes for a joyous time. Although my family, traditions, and I have changed over the past decade, the staples of Thanksgiving almost always remain the same, and for many that celebrate this holiday, these traditions are universal. Waking up late, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, helping the family set up the table for the extravagant meal to come, everything we do, we do together. We sit around the table enjoying food that only comes once a year, and take time to say thanks for the company and benefits we have. Every Thanksgiving ends the same way, a slice of pumpkin pie. Although we have all consumed more food than necessary, that final addition to the meal tops off the holiday. The day isn’t actually over, however. In fact, it is always still quite early. While cousins would often turn in early to prepare for the next day’s battle known by the populous as “Black Friday,” I simply relax, and this day, as fantastic as it is, turns into any other.

This immediate transition has made me think about what Thanksgiving means to me. Honestly, it’s mostly about the pie. As terrible as this may seem, I am sure I am not the only one to look forward to the food, the football game, the parade, or any of the other factors that make this holiday enjoyable. And for many I am sure, it is equally as easy to forget about what this day is meant to celebrate.

According to a National Retail Federation report, in 2012 35 million Americans visited retail stores or online shopping websites on Thanksgiving Day. A record 247 million shoppers did the same over the entire weekend, an increase of over 20 million since 2011. With more stores continuously opening their doors sooner, and starting deals earlier every year, it appears that Black Friday is about more than just Friday. While this isn’t a statement against or economic expansion, or even simple retail therapy, it is a question of priorities. For far too long I have longed for holiday desserts and enjoyed the sanctioned and encouraged gluttony that comes with nearly every major holiday and over 200 million Americans will take this time to celebrate consumerism. I, and many others, have forgotten about the meaning of this day.

Put quite plainly, giving thanks cannot just be a single day of grace. It can’t mean simply saying “thank you,” but rather, showing it. Perhaps that means being thankful for the opportunity of a full table of food, by purchasing less, and giving away some. Or maybe it is found in taking time to turn off the television and simply demonstrating, in some possibly fleeting way, that we care about those in the room. Or even further, maybe it is finding some way to give others a reason to be thankful. See the idea of thanksgiving is beautiful, compassionate, and heartfelt. It is also tragically temporary. It doesn’t have to be.