There is a conflict of energies on Thanksgiving weekend.
For hundreds of years, Thanksgiving has been a spiritual holiday, a time for giving thanks for the bounty of nature that nourishes us, and a time to gather with friends and family and share a feast.
This year, I drove down to Santa Fe and spent four days with my two sons and their wives and children, eleven of us gathered under one roof. It was a lovely time, seeing the older cousins connecting with the younger ones, the living room full with multiple card games, music, love, and laughter. The crowning delight was a bountiful, delicious feast prepared by my daughter-in-law. All that Thanksgiving was meant to be was there.
The conflicting energy of Thanksgiving weekend is Black Friday which, over recent years, has crept like a fungus, encroaching more and more into the time of family and community and drowning out the sacred energy of gratitude.
Greed! Consumers’ greed for more and more stuff at bargain prices. Retailers’ greed for more and more sales, more and more money.
The employees of these retailers no longer get a holiday weekend. The black fungus of Black Friday has crept from early morning on Friday, to the wee hours of Friday morning, to midnight, and in the last few years to Thanksgiving evening. So now the employees can’t even linger with their families on the holiday.
I don’t feel so much concern for consumers who stand in line to get deals because they, at least, have a choice; though I am sad that they would curtail a celebration of gratitude to grab for more stuff. We have forgotten the meaning of enough.
Kudos to REI who closed their stores on Black Friday, saying in their ad that they wanted to give their employees a holiday weekend, and inviting their customers to meet them outdoors. Perhaps, I hope, this insanity has reached its peak and will turn around. I know I am not the only one to avoid Black Friday like the plague.
I believe that gratitude is a primary spiritual energy. Without it we can never be satisfied. No matter how little we have, or how much more we think we need, there is always something to be grateful for. Even the simplest things— the light on a turning leaf, the smile on the face of a friend— can be a source of renewal. Most of us reading this blog have a roof over our heads and food on the table. Let us not forget to be thankful for these daily blessings, remembering that much of the population of the world does not have such basic security.
Once when I was trekking in Nepal with my shaman teacher Elizabeth Cogburn, she said to us as we gathered for our evening meal, “Gratitude is the beginning of abundance.”
Those words have stayed with me over many years. Perhaps if we hold them close to our hearts, we can stop burdening our planet with our craving for more and more stuff, and give thanks, give praise, for the greatest blessing of all—the love of God that surrounds and enfolds us.