When the Pilgrims who came to America first arrived in the New World, they confronted a cold, rocky, desolate wilderness. They had no family to greet them… No friends to offer them shelter… No homes… Nothing but intestinal fortitude, almost super-human self reliance and a fierce resiliency. And even with that, during the first winter, more than half died of sickness or exposure.
The very first Thanksgiving in what is now the United States was 1621 in Plymouth Massachusetts. The purpose was to give thanks for a good harvest and to rejoice together with the rest of the community after a season of hard work. Lord knows they deserved it.
Soon after this first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims found they had grown more food than they could consume themselves. They were frugal and hard-working and set up a vibrant trading system with the Indians, the profit of which allowed them to pay off their debts to the London merchants who sponsored the Pilgrims’ journey faster than expected. Not long after, the Plymouth colony became an example, culminating in more than 20,000 Englishmen migrating from England between 1630 and 1642 in what became known as the Great Puritan Migration.
In a nutshell, the Pilgrims were some serious bad asses. Yes, they may have worn silly hats and big buckles (although even that may be more myth than fact), but just contemplate for a moment what they did: They left everything they knew behind — all of the creature comforts of the age, all of their friends and family — to sail off across the globe into the utter unknown. All in search of economic and religious freedom. They worked incredibly hard, suffered huge misfortunes, were frugal to a fault, and eventually succeeded — giving birth to a nation.
Now, contrast that message of Thanksgiving with the email below that I received in my inbox last night:
Thanksgiving isn’t about spending time with friends, family and actually being thankful… That’s just silly. No, it should be about sitting in a barren suburban strip mall parking lot watching a movie while waiting for the Black Friday hyper-consumerism madness to start.
Incidentally, the “Door Busters” phrase Best Buy uses in the ad above references, of course, the carnage that now takes place each Black Friday as consumption mad shoppers literally break down the doors of big box stores, trampling other shoppers (sometimes to death) to get their hands on the latest gewgaw that will no doubt be charged on a credit card and end up in a landfill six months from now. Fun stuff isn’t it?
Here’s what it looks like…
Do yourself a favor and stay as far away from the Black Friday consumer madness as possible. Hang out with your friends and family. Eat, talk, laugh…Go volunteer at a soup kitchen… Get your doze on in gramps’s barcalounger while Aunt Joan prattles on about her psoriasis. Watch football with your cousins. Gorge on pumpkin pie.
The gewgaws will always be there tomorrow.