Sometimes I wish that Thanksgiving came after Christmas rather than before. That’s because I think that this time of year is often the time that we focus too much on what we don’t have and forget how much we actually have to be thankful for. We spend one day saying thank you for the people in our lives and supposedly for all that we’ve been given, but as soon as 6:00 rolls around, many people are out the door, cussing people out in parking lots, trampling over others to get through the door first, and pushing and shoving their way to the all-important, can’t live without, deals. After just a few short hours, we’ve forgotten all that we have and only care about what we think we need.
When did we become a people who value what we don’t have more than what it is in our midst? Is saving a few dollars really worth more than spending time with family? I understand the frenzy, the excitement of getting the bargains, standing in the long lines to find out how much the savings will be, arriving back at home to carry in bag after bag of goodies; but I don’t understand the mentality that has gotten us to where we are today. I used to be a big Black Friday shopper. Mom and I would get up at the crack of dawn and drive to wherever the best sales were. We were among those standing in line when the stores opened at 10:00 in the morning. And then we got up even earlier when the times changed to 8:00am. Mom bowed out when they started opening at 6am, but Rebecca and I were still game. And then Ken drove us the year that the stores opened at 4am. But before we knew it, stores were opening at midnight, and a few select ones decided to open at 6pm on Thanksgiving. Now, most stores open before the pumpkin pie has even been served. That’s when the thrill of the shopping adventure lost all its luster for me.
Give up spending that last hour with my parents and siblings? Skip spending the evening with Ken’s family? No way! The girls and I hit a few stores that first Black Friday that saw sales the evening before, and it was a waste of time. Nothing worth buying was left on the shelves, and better deals could be found online, so we went home and hauled out the Christmas decorations instead. It was sad, and my girls still lament not being able to take part in the tradition that my mother and I kept up for years and years. You see, it wasn’t really the deals. By Thanksgiving, I usually have all of my Christmas shopping wrapped up (quite literally). I was rarely doing the bulk of my Christmas shopping. I was finishing up a gift here or there and looking for great bargains, but what I was really doing was participating in a tradition that Mom and I looked forward to every year. It was about making our plan, devising our method, and sharing the experience – together. You see, that’s what really mattered. It was a day that we spent together. As the girls grew older, they joined us and came to understand that it wasn’t about getting the deals; it was about finding the fun and being together.
While I still sometimes regret not joining in the fun, I don’t regret the decision to stay with my family and relish our time together. My father is turning eighty, and I don’t want to miss a single minute of the time we have together. My girls are almost grown, and my nieces and nephews are looking more like young adults every year. When I look back and recall my favorite memories, those Fridays with Mom will be on the list, but not at the top. They will be part of the fun stories that I recollect and tell my grandchildren someday, but I won’t hold them sacred. The memories that I will always cherish, that I hope will never fade, are taking our silly family picture that Mom uses in her Christmas card, watching football together, playing board games, poker, and dominoes for hours on end, and going around the table before we eat to tell at least one thing for which we are truly grateful. And there’s no price that can be placed on that.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.