I glanced at the magazines on the rack, and there she was, Martha Stewart, promising the “Best Thanksgiving Ever.” She was offering a perfect piece of pie while smiling a perfect smile with perfect teeth, wearing a perfect dress with perfect hair, surrounded by a perfect kitchen with an open window that looked out on a perfect garden. Every wrinkle and excess pound had been photoshopped away so that she looked decades younger than her actual age.
Unlike Martha, when we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner we show up with wrinkles, warts and all. We look our age. The kitchen is a mess with spilled flour on the cabinet and a sink full of dirty dishes. The food, of course, is great because my wife is a great cook: baked turkey, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, her famous dressing passed down from her mother, green beans, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and pecan pie.
But, it occurred to me, when I saw Martha Stewart’s magazine, that Thanksgiving isn’t about the food or the perfect picture. Real Thanksgiving is about the heart. It is difficult for a heart that is not thankful every day to be truly thankful on Thanksgiving Day.
Which brings up a concern about Thanksgiving. This year our tradition of gathering around bountiful tables with family and friends seems more like a brief interruption to the more important business of shopping. We can hardly push back from the table fast enough to hit the stores for Black Friday doorbusters that start on Thursday.
Apparently the earliest Black Fridays took place in Philadelphia in the 1950s when hordes of shoppers descended on local stores ahead of the Army/Navy football game. The national push started in the 1960s. It gained momentum and became a well-fixed tradition by the 21st century. While most stores still remain closed on Thursday, others will throw open their doors on Thanksgiving. Black Friday has become a five-day marathon including Cyber Monday.
Our forefathers knew nothing of this. They hunted and harvested and cleaned and cooked, but they never stood in lines in front of glass doors waiting for the opening bell. They never rushed through aisles searching for treasures that were sure to disappear. They never stood in check-out lines that stretched to the back of the store. Black Friday seems to symbolize our rush through life, our efforts to get the best deal, to be first in line.
I am nostalgic for the traditional American Thanksgiving we knew when I was a child. All the stores were closed. Workers could spend the day with their families. No one had to shop for presents or send cards. All we had to do was enjoy getting together with those we love and be thankful.
I hope this holiday season we cultivate a thankful heart and grateful spirit and take time to truly be with family and friends so that we “let the peace of Christ rule in [our] hearts … and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15.
— Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. For more info visit www.tinsleycenter.com. Email email@example.com.