Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Give Thanks

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with a dad who didn't let us watch that much TV; in the country with no access to cable (read: MTV), far from the big city; with a mom who hated shopping; and with an extended family who always seemed to have everything they needed.  Because of all that, I wasn't barraged with pop culture or subjected to insecure, judgmental rich kids with Range Rovers. It's true, in many ways I do resent that this same situation kept many opportunities from me, but this isn't going to be a post about the pros and cons of a sheltered, small-town childhood. One could form these same opinions if raised in Manhattan or LA.

What opinions? That we are a culture of people who are told that we are never happy enough, cool enough, or good enough. There's always something else. Something better. Something newer on the horizon that you have to be the first to have. I'm all for self-improvement, and yes, our society runs on capital -- but the trick is drowning out the commercialism and knowing how to be friggin' content for God's sake. How to not feel self-conscious because you don't have a Prada bag or the new iPhone when you are in a group of people who all do. How to not see someone different from you and judge them instantly. How to learn that what you have, what you wear, what you drive, and even the music you like, are not, in fact, who you are.

I originally sat down to say that we should all remember to give thanks for what we have, because it seems like our country has completely written off Thanksgiving. It doesn't make that much money, and it encourages us to appreciate what we have instead of want what we don't. "Christmas," on the other hand, is a cash cow, so let's get right to it. I put Christmas in quotes because it's not even about Christmas or Hanuka. It's "the holidays,"  because that lumps everything into one, big, gift-buying bonanza. One that this year, starts at 10 P.M. on Thanksgiving Day, if you are Wal-Mart; which means that if you are a Wal-Mart employee, you are going to be hard-pressed to find time to be thankful for anything on Thanksgiving Day this year.

Before I get off on a crazy tangent about Wal-Mart, I'd like to switch to a more positive note, and give Nordstrom a pat on the back for this:

happiness is celebrating one holiday at a time

It's still marketing, but I'm not ashamed to say that it works on me. I always say that we live in a capitalistic democracy and that we vote with our dollars just as much as with our ballots (or more so, since half of our country doesn't vote with anything but their dollars). So when I can't resist the urge to buy this year's cute new shoes because then I'll be happy, I'll probably buy them at Nordstrom. ;)

I'll wrap up with what I'm most thankful for: The people in my life. I can't express how lucky I feel each day to be surrounded by honest-to-goodness good people. People that will do the right thing and try to make the world a truly better place.

May you all find time to give thanks this year.

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