busy escalators stores shopping

Gee, when did “Black Friday” become an official holiday?

While checking the date of Thanksgiving, when our family will gather here to stuff ourselves like turkeys, I noticed that the following day was also colored in as a holiday. Yep, Black Friday was highlighted right up there for special note, along with significant November days like Election Day, Veterans’ Day, and the end of daylight saving time.

Really? Have we reached the point that a day dedicated to spending free-for-alls is as important as voting and honoring our military heroes? (Everyone who honorably serves is a hero.)

Okay, so I’m one of those irascible “old folks” who refuses to observe a day of spending frenzy. I’d rather go clean out chicken poop or tackle the tangle of dead weeds in the garden than stand in lengthy check-out lines to buy more “stuff.”

In the process of paying tribute to a day that focuses on acquiring more “stuff,” have we overlooked something far more important … like remembering to celebrate the day before: Thanksgiving?

I was caught by surprise before church one recent Sunday morning when, upon greeting our pastor, she promptly asked me what was, apparently, part of an informal congregational survey she was conducting.

“What are you grateful for?” she asked.

Without even thinking, I promptly replied, in all honesty, “Everything.” Thinking about it later, there were some things that came to mind for which I’m not thankful, like ticks and political squabbling and dirt sneaking in the front door every time it opens and computer glitches.

Certainly, there are oodles of things for which none of us is thankful. Unfortunately, sometimes those major and minor irritations become so prevalent in our lives that we forget how incredibly much we have for which to give thanks, at Thanksgiving and every day.

After my “everything” response, the next immediate thing that came to mind was “health.”

We can have all the “stuff,” in the world, but without being healthy enough to participate in the multitude of life’s pleasures and enjoy what we have, the “stuff” doesn’t much matter. With daily counts of losses of people to COVID-19, and too-frequent, life-threatening illnesses and deaths among family, friends and neighbors, good health has to rank high on the thankfulness scale.

Even higher on my thankfulness scale is faith and freedom, linked in many ways. To have the freedom to come, to go, to pursue what’s important in our lives, is something we just take for granted. Being able to practice the faith of our choice was a cornerstone to the establishment of our country, a critical part of our history we tend to forget and need to remember, even today.

Increasingly, I feel thankfulness for family and friends. The isolation and quarantining over the last year to avoid spreading COVID-19 infections in a pandemic underlined how much we need each other. We all need to visit face-to-face, to hug those we love and miss, to hold conversations enhanced by facial expression and the gestures we use so unconsciously in our speaking.

Despite my grumbling about technology, I’m also thankful for the speed and efficiency it’s added to our lives. Technology is just another tool to make life a bit easier and more efficient … well, ideally anyway. With it, we conduct business, share information, reach out to one another with concerns, photos and jokes as well as keep in touch with those far away and rarely seen. Yeah, like any tool, it can break, be stolen, refuse to properly function and do great damage when used carelessly or improperly.

And if you don’t believe it’s here to stay, try prying a cellphone out of a teenager’s — or a grandma’s — hand.

Yes, I am thankful. For all the beauty of nature around us. For crops still to be harvested and those already in bins. For the green, covering our fields, grazing hillsides and pastures. For all the feathered visitors and wildlife we enjoy watching, and the pets we love like family. I am thankful for sunshine and rain, for breezes to dry it off, even for the beauty of snow (but not all winter, please).

Thankful … for everything. Even for things of creation we might not appreciate, like ticks, which God obviously intended for some purpose. And, I’m thankful that I don’t need to shop on Black Friday.

Thanksgiving blessing to you all!

Joyce Bupp is a freelance writer in York County, Pennsylvania.

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