Let's Go Back to Family
The crunch is on for jolly attitudes, presents that thrill, and family, family, family.
And if there is anything we Americans pride ourselves on it is all of the above, especially at this time of year.
I am just wondering who we are kidding. I kept hearing about Black Friday and how the doors would be open at 2 or 4 in the morning.
What about sitting with your family after the turkey, playing a game, remembering times we shared at other meals?
What about the poor folks who, although they count themselves lucky to have a job, have to stay late the night before to set it all up, arrive early to open the doors while we rush from our families to buy something we may not even need. I remind us all that want is very different from need.
My heart has for years felt a horrible tug every time stores announce these marathon buying frenzies.
I doubt any of us can afford it emotionally or financially, this frenzy. It is not that we shouldn't want to buy gifts or even everyday items at a good price - that is the other American principle - but should we do it at in a way that puts a knife in the heart of this most American holiday?
It used to be that we gathered together, some went to church, all of us spent time with parents, grandparents and close friends.
It was a time of conversation. Remember talking to people who were actually in the room with you and not on a device? Where has this concept gone?
Where have we put family gatherings for workers? Why do we now believe there is a class of person who no longer deserves to have a day with their family? How did we come to this as a way of giving thanks?
I know stores can make it or break it on these weekends, but here is an idea: Adjust the prices for a week, during regular hours. Then people don't have to push and shove, injure themselves or others, and none of us are demeaned by shopping.
None of this is a celebration of America, our ideals or our very common lives. We have put a bargain over our families, and we think of ourselves as clever shoppers instead of people who somehow have decided to walk away from one another in favor of things.
A good deal is exciting, but is it really better than being together? I bet the folks on Staten Island would be willing to be in their homes and with their families. My guess is the families in Breezy Point would rather sit at a table than run to a store. Maybe we should all remember just how fleeting these precious times are.
I am no stranger to how wrong family gatherings can go. Like everyone, I have stories of blow-ups and dull evenings. My personal favorite is the year my mom - for about the 20th year - had made a wonderful, traditional dinner (she always made the best dressing ever in the universe, no arguments, she made the BEST!), and my dad got up from the table to rush to the den to watch football, having barely swallowed the last piece of turkey on his plate.
Mom lost it and gave him h-e-double toothpicks! Dad got so angry that when he went to use the john, he slammed down the seat so hard that he broke it. So now we had a broken toilet and a mother who feels taken for granted and a lot of hurt feelings - not exactly Norman Rockwell.
But we were all there and for years after, we would laugh about it and say to Dad, "Just because it is Thanksgiving, don't break the toilet!"
OK, not Disney, not Rockwell, but real. We expected to be under one roof for the entire day, and we did not deprive others of that possible joy or even personal arguments - their choice.
I wish we would put an end to this nonsense and return to being Americans who wish to remember the gift of democracy for Thanksgiving and the joy of the "Holly Days" for December more than 30 percent off.
May all your days be merry and may we all be home for Christmas and Hanukkah and not putting discounts over humanity.
And may your toilet remain intact.
Joyce Reehling lives in Pinehurst. She retired here from New York after a 33-year career in theater, TV and commercials.
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