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Thanksgiving is About Being Thankful, Not Having Our Cart Full

It’s the “most wonderful time” of the year once again. A time for macing fellow shoppers over Xbox’s, trampling and stepping over people who collapse (and sometimes later die), and stabbing others over a parking space.

It’s Black Friday time!

Ok, who am I kidding. It’s Gray Thursday. Some retailers are already opening at 8am on Thanksgiving Day this year. The majority are opening between 3 and 6pm on Thursday.

Who knows, by next year, it might be White Wednesday. We could leave straight from work, shop all night, sleep all day Thursday (Forget Thanksgiving) and then come back out Friday for more DEALS. Okay now we have a problem! Nobody cuts into my Turkey Time!

Where do you draw the line for shopping over family time? If you don’t have a line, let me challenge you to draw one before you finish this post. Be honest with yourself. Your line could be 12pm on Thanksgiving day. It could be 12pm on Friday. What matters is you take a stand and draw a line.

Don’t let stores draw a line for you each year! They will continue to sneak their way into family time until there is little or nothing left. They don’t care about family. They care about the bottom dollar.

Family unity is not sparked by stuff. You may be thinking: “But I am buying this stuff for my family.” While that may be true, how often does stuff spark closeness as a family?

Hard times spark unity. Adventure sparks unity. Laughing over a meal. Serving together. Any number of other virtues. That new iPad does not bring family together.

That new iPad does not bring family together.

How often do we walk out of Black Friday with only gifts for others? For me, it’s next to impossible to walk out without something for myself.  When I show up at the store, I book it to the item I want for myself first and then hope the stuff I plan on getting other people is still available later.

We are so busy buying more stuff, we don’t slow down to be thankful for what we already have. The irony here is this shopping happens ON Thanksgiving. The one day of the year we are supposed to slow down and spend time with family and friends to be thankful for our blessings. Thanksgiving is about being thankful, not having our cart full.

Thanksgiving is about being thankful, not having our cart full.

Family Won’t Be Around Forever. The stage of life your family is at this year at Thanksgiving will never be the same. Never. Your kids won’t be the same age. Your parents may or may not be there next year. Life happens. Slow down. Savor it.

I wish I had known four years ago that it was my last Thanksgiving with my dad. Life is short and we are not promised tomorrow. Our family get togethers are not the same now. We always feel like a part of us is missing, but it has taught me to not take family for granted and enjoy our days to the fullest.

A deal is not a deal if it’s something you don’t need. If you buy a $100 coffee maker on sale for $80 that you don’t need, you didn’t save $20. You wasted $80. So ask yourself why before you buy.

Ask yourself why before you buy.

Do I need this TV or does the one I have work fine the way it is? Is this really a good gift for my brother or am I just buying it because it is a good deal?

A heartfelt gift will trump an expensive one every time. Put thought into your gifts. Get creative.

  1. Instead of gifts, let the whole family chip in for a trip

  2. Buy a game you can all play as a family

  3. Give coupon books a whirl

Think outside the box for things that can bring you closer to the ones you love.

Somebody is leaving their family if you are shopping on Thanksgiving or crazy-early on Black Friday morning. It might be the manager, the guy putting back the carts, the girl who sets up the display, or the poor soul given the job of holding people back before the sale starts. Not only are you losing out on time with your family, these employees are losing out on time with theirs.

Worse yet, you are encouraging stores to put profit before family. Not shopping at big box stores won’t exactly cause their stock to plummet, but standing up for what you believe in counts for even more in my book.

I became inspired when I heard about REI, an outdoor sporting goods retailer, taking a bold stand and closing their doors on not only Thanksgiving, but Black Friday as well. Instead of participating in the retail games of one upping the competition (we all hate one uppers) they are giving their employees a paid day off on one of the top 10 money-making days of the year for them.

This is the complete opposite of their competition who are opening their doors on Thanksgiving before you even have a chance to finish your pumpkin pie. This company is encouraging people to go outside and make experiences instead of shopping. This is clearly not a great financial act, but an act for their statement to be heard about what values they stand for.

Now that is bold. And that is the kind of company I want to stand behind. Not one that wants me to leave my family, throw my turkey in tupperware, and eat it on the way to their store on Thanksgiving.

Remember the line I talked about at the start of the post? Where do you draw your line? It moves every year if you let retailers draw it for you.

Walmart, Target, and the rest are banking on us shopping for our family rather than being with our family on Thanksgiving. Why wouldn’t they? Have our wallets shown them otherwise?

You determine what is most important in life. You have the choice of where to spend your time and energy. Your time with family and loved ones is worth more than a sale on a crockpot.

Where will my family be spending Thanksgiving? We’ve drawn our line and won’t be standing in a line on Thanksgiving. That day is sacred for us. That’s our line. It doesn’t matter how many commercials flash on the screen, how many flyers show up in the mail, how many ads blast through our radio. Thanksgiving is a day for us to be grateful and spend time together.

Big-box stores are already whipping out their markers to draw a new line for next year. Will you wait for that line or draw your own?

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