I took the title of this column from a Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Before you get the wrong idea, I have to explain that I don’t read or watch Martha Stewart, Oprah or Paula Deen, but my wife does. We have these magazines lying around the house and it is difficult to ignore what is on the cover.
So there she was, Martha Stewart, offering a perfect piece of pie while smiling a perfect smile with perfect teeth, wearing a perfect dress with perfect hair, surrounded by a perfect kitchen with an open window that looked out on a perfect garden. Like Oprah and Paula, every wrinkle and excess pound had been photo-shopped away so that she looked decades younger than her actual age. And, over her head hung the words, “Make It Your Best Thanksgiving Ever.”
Unlike Martha, when we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner we must show up with wrinkles, warts and all. We look our age. The kitchen is a mess with spilled flour on the cabinet and sinks full of dirty dishes to be cleaned up afterward. The food, of course, is great because my wife is a great cook: baked turkey, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, her famous dressing passed down from her mother, green beans, fruit salad, cranberry sauce, pumpkin, apple and pecan pie, for starters.
But, it occurred to me, when I saw that magazine cover of Martha Stewart, that Thanksgiving isn’t about the food or the perfect picture. Real Thanksgiving is about the heart. It is difficult for a heart that is not thankful every day to be truly thankful on Thanksgiving Day.
Which brings up another concern about this Thanksgiving. A few years ago the retail stores invented black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when one-day discounts lure mobs of hysterical shoppers into their stores before dawn. At first, I didn’t understand black Friday and, except for one occasion for which I repented, I have avoided it. But black Friday has begun to creep. This year, some stores are opening as early as 9 PM on Thanksgiving Day so that shoppers can shop all night. Really. Is this necessary?
The traditional American Thanksgiving was special because there was nothing commercial about it. All the stores were closed. Workers could spend the day with their families. No one had to shop for presents or send cards. All we had to do was enjoy getting together with those we love and be thankful. Even the homeless, the poor and prisoners could sit down to a good dinner. But, if black Friday continues to creep into Thanksgiving Thursday, our thankful memories of gathering around bountiful tables with family and friends might be replaced with frazzled memories of jostling strangers in the check-out line for the best deal.
I am ready to draw the line. I will concede black Friday in hopes it will pump life into our economy. But I hope we will make this Thanksgiving, and every Thanksgiving, the best ever by being truly thankful with those we love.