On the day that has in our time been dubbed “Black Friday,” I hope you have found a more ingenious way to express your ability to relax and take a break from pressures of the work world. I like the sentiment I found in one of my favorite blogs: “Only Americans would trample on top of each other to buy new stuff the day after they give thanks for the things that they already have.”
I, for one, have maintained a tradition of personally boycotting Black Friday sales. More than that, I wince every time I hear that someone has to work on Thanksgiving. Yes, I understand that emergency personnel, law enforcement, hospital workers and others staffing vital services can’t lightly shut down such operations. Believe me, our family became part of that narrative for years, checking the next year’s calendar to see what day of the week Christmas would fall on to calculate whether a little girl would have to wait until dinnertime to begin celebrating Christmas with her dad. But for nonessential services—like keeping the grocery store open so that people can redeem themselves for having forgotten the cranberry sauce for their fabulous dinner—I wince at what that means for families. Yes, the pay may be better when you add in holiday overtime, but what is the cost to family cohesiveness?
This year, the thought of how much history bears on our holidays has been impressing itself on me. I’m not sure why; perhaps the loss of a loved one brings on such melancholy around the holidays. Especially for those who feel called to preserve their own family’s micro-history, this concept should not be lost on us. Just as we are the ones to remember what our great-grandparents’ names are and where they came from, we are the ones most likely to pass down the traditions shared by family members over the years.
And it would be these same people who could become the catalysts to call our family’s heart back to home, to disentangle ourselves from the things that increasingly capture our attention and reconnect with each other.
I’ve heard some people mention that the only times they see their extended family members is during weddings and funerals. Weddings are understandably joyous affairs with built-in incentives to draw family together. But the season for weddings in any given family eventually passes, which leaves funerals the one remaining event to issue the gathering call. Why wait for funerals to get together with cousins, aunts, uncles? Why not resolve to re-institute the tradition of holiday gatherings?