Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, or at the very least it's tied for the top spot. This is coming from someone who did not celebrate it until I was 17--I was in Mexico, a country that A) Doesn't have it on the calendar, and B) Is more fond of chicken than turkey (it goes better with mole').
It's my favorite because it's one of the few days a year we use to pause and appreciate what's around us. Most holidays have us celebrating someone or something (a loved one, JC, our independence), or looking forward to something (New Year's). Thanksgiving, however, just asks us to say "Thanks" for what we have and others likely don't.
We celebrate this day with people we are grateful to have in our lives (and yes, even those we are less-than grateful for), and we share our food, our stories, and our laughter. Together, we bow our heads and reflect on what's good in our lives.
And then there's Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the twins of craving and consumption that kick off the shopping season. The season that urges you to take out your wallet and wave it around begins. It's time to replace that old DVD player, buy more toys for the kids, and do it now because the deals are amazing! Get more, get better, and just simply "get."
The irony here is pretty obvious. The season of "get" begins right after we give thanks for what we already have. We haven't finished our third helping of pumpkin pie when we are forming a line to get a Big Hugs Elmo. This moment of reflection is getting shorter and shorter every year, with some stores (and its eager patrons) now starting the madness as early as Thanksgiving evening.
This doesn't mean that this or any holiday have a sole purpose. They can be many things or just one, but what's important is being aware. Recognize the difference between being dragged into the shopping craze and following it willfully.
It all depends on what you already have and what you don't: if you are someone who is grateful on a regular basis, then you probably don't need this or any other day to remind you of anything. But if you are like me and can't remember the last time you stopped and thanked the universe for the blessings all around you, then maybe you don't need more stuff as much as you need to see how rich you already are.
You and I can go forth and conquer the outlet some other time. Right now, it's time to savor the day.
I am grateful for my family, my friends, my best friend and paloma, my colleagues, you, my readers, the food in my fridge, the car in my garage, the pants in my drawer, and much much more.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody.