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Written by Ben Jorgensen, The Clearwater Progress   

Thankful for what?

     Thanksgiving has become engulfed by something altogether distinct and disparate from its intended purpose yet more and more people seemingly like the new direction.

     In 1863 during our Civil War, our nation officially set aside one day to give thanks for our blessings, but it’s reached the point now where we can no longer seem to even give one whole day to such a worthy exercise.

     It’s pretty incredible to think that Thanksgiving was implemented during a national war, but it demonstrated how dearly we needed to offer “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,”said President Abraham Lincoln.

     Today, it seems we have a growing cultural war aimed at the very notion of giving thanks.

     Each year the concept of gratitude seems to slip a little further down the importance ladder, passed over by the quest to acquire some new or better or bigger or fun thing at a really great price. It comes with the bonus of knowing you might have to elbow or cut someone off to get that little goodie that makes your heart sing.

     We have an entire year to participate in or even celebrate—if you like—commercialism. Thanksgiving should be off the table to such motives.

     Sadly it’s not. The big box store owners are steadily and profoundly changing people’s attitudes about giving thanks. Black Friday, the helter-skelter holiday rush for stuff has now invaded the actual Thanksgiving Day to such extent that it’s being called Gray Thursday. You can get Black Friday deals on Gray Thursday.

     Just move your meal around or suck it down in three minutes to accommodate filling your castle with even more stuff.

     Gray Thursday sounds bleary, but you can always cheer yourself up with the knowledge that you can by a TV bigger than your house for less than it costs to eat for a month. We should be thankful for that right? Thankful that our day for considering and expressing gratitude, a day for spending time with family and friends is really just a launching pad for going after all the stuff we wish we had.

     It’s quite a juxtaposition from what Lincoln had in mind when addressing a nation under fire.

     It seems people are famished for doorbuster deals. They’ll lose sleep for them. Sacrifice health for them. Even fight for them.

     As doorbuster deals have become the holiday’s main course, giving thanks is relegated to the same level as cleaning the dishes. This change in reality demonstrates how much we truly need a real  Thanksgiving.

     While visiting family in the Treasure Valley last week, I happened to see a photo in a local paper depicting a couple people camped out in the wee hours at a Target store in the hopes of buying a large television for a couple hundred dollars.

     While I admire their patient and tenacious spirit, people shouldn’t be driven—either by themselves or wheelers and dealers—to go to such extremes for corruptible things.

     I can’t help but wonder if people would be willing to wait under similar conditions for a chance to say thanks to their parents. Not one of us would be here without a mother who cared and spent the wee hours losing sleep so she could feed us or nurse us through a cold.

     We aren’t denying ourselves anymore as a nation and that’s a big problem. That’s why giving thanks is so critical. To give thanks you must deny your selfish tendencies, habits, and nature.

     We need to take more time to give thanks, not take away the time we do have from giving thanks.

     As Tecumseh said, “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself."


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