Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in The States, a day set aside to gather together and be thankful for the good things in our lives. American got in our cars and drove miles and miles to be with family and friends, eating enough food to feed a small village. We had turkey, gravy, stuffing (and dressing), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, apple cider, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and Tums.
Today is Black Friday, the day we push and shove our way past the neighbors because we want even more.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against consumerism. I like “stuff” as much as the next guy. I just spent $97 on a turntable last week so I could convert all my 78rpm records to mp3 format. My Kindle has 567 books on it, and I haven’t even had it a year. I have a craft collection that is downright scary. I never could turn down a ball of soft lavender yarn.
So I do get it. I understand. Black Friday got its name, not because of some tragic incident involving stampeding crowds and being trampled underfoot. It was called that because it was the day retailers could assume their books would be out of the red and into the black, finally seeing a profit after a tough season. That’s a good thing. That meant stores stayed open and employees kept their jobs. In current times, it means customer service reps, delivery drivers and website designers keep working. They get paychecks which they use to buy things that keep other businesses open and more people stay employed. I get it.
But you have to wonder how much is enough. How much ‘stuff’ will make us happy and when does it become a burden. Even in my own life, how much yarn and how many records will keep me entertained and how much makes for potential avalanches. I’ve seen too many people stuck in horrible jobs because they have to make the payment on the Escalade. Too many people working long days so they can unwind for an hour in front of the 80” flat screen before they fall into bed and start the whole thing all over again. And that’s the part I don’t get.
My dream? I would live on 10 or 20 acres out in the middle of nowhere, growing my own food and listening to the breeze as it makes its way through the trees. Canning my own tomatoes and picking my own berries… that would be heaven. It would definitely be work – I’m a realist – but still heaven.
So maybe this morning, as you log on to your computer or get into the car to go shopping, maybe think about how much all of this “stuff” is really costing. Not the price in dollars but the price in time and lack of freedom. Maybe you’ll find some things you know someone will love, and that’s great. And maybe you’ll find some things you can do without this year. Besides, if you wait, it will still be there next year, probably cheaper and with double the memory.