Be Thankful On a Black Friday

It’s 6am on Black Friday.  Usually stores would be cracking open right about now, but this year something different happened.  As most of you no doubt know, or experienced, many took to a new routine—-Thursday night blow out sales, frenzies, lines to get deals & hooplah.  A way to break out of the tryptophan hangover.

I am sure Black Friday got its name for good reason.  I wonder if it has anything to do with that same hooplah hangover.  The after effects of the Thanksgiving build up—the cooking, the planning, the managing & the organizing.  Isn’t that a common complaint after birthdays and holidays?  You are waiting in such expectation that once things play out and the party’s over, you feel a bit deflated and sad?

Yesterday, while talking with Alex after his fifth time out of the morning, I asked him what color he’d use to describe his inner feeling and emotions.  He quickly replied “black” and drew a picture of me in his notebook and crossed it out with a thick black marker.  Clearly, he was feeling…..THANKFUL.

He later remarked that he thinks we love him more when he’s sick.  Last Saturday, while Matt and I were in NYC, he had the “throw ups” and he reflected with a few of us last night that it is in those moments that he feels most loved.  Makes sense—all the pomp and circumstance, the nurture and love we lavish on our bunnies when they are feeling yucky.  Extra movie time, special food, attentive “service” for your every need.

In the midst of Alex’s reflections, something hit me, yesterday.  Let me set the scene a bit.  My dear husband goes a bit cray-cray on holidays when it comes to meal planning and executing.   It is almost as if he saves all his cooking creativity and bandwidth for a few days a year, and BAM!!!!!!—unleashes it all in the kitchen over a 24 hour period of planning, shopping, chopping, dicing, sauteing, roasting, basting and painstakingly preparing a buffet of goodness.  (This year, it was Pioneer Woman inspired!  You. Must. Make. Whiskey. Glazed. Carrots.  NOW.)  I love it.  I become dish washer, sous chef woman and try to just stay out of the fray.

In the midst of the morning, though, I saw his cheese tray (which I easily consumed 1/2 of…..oh, LORD, Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese—slay me now).  Pictured above, you can see Matt chalked out the command, “BE THANKFUL!”  Be thankful!  It truly is a mandate.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances,” reminds Thessalonians 5:16-18.  Sometimes, I just don’t WANT to be thankful.  I don’t FEEL like being thankful.  I am done with bickering children.  I am over times outs.  I am depleted.  I am selfishly saying….let me just be sick on the couch, every need attended to.  ME ME ME.

So self focused, I forget to see how much surrounds me to be thankful for.  I just crave more.  It’s like the sales that fill today’s to do lists.  More more more.  I love a good deal and the rush of riding the escalator up into Target, Cinnamon Gingerbread Latte from Peets in hand.  Those sales remind me, though, of our never ending need for more.  How hard it can be to be present.  To count our blessings.  To BE THANKFUL, gosh dang-it.

Thanks to amazing grandparents, we were able to attend two weddings over the last week and enjoy five days away on the East Coast.  Those five days were packed with LOTS of walking, exploring, eating, laughter with friends, adventures on subways, trains, planes & automobiles—and TIME WITH MY HUSBAND!  It is not to be lost that “breaks” from our children are actually healthy and beneficial.  This theory and practice is decidedly a “first world” option, I realize, but I am grateful.   We enjoyed leisurely meals with dear friends, without having conversations interrupted.  Other times, we waited on delayed subway trains, not having to ply screaming youngsters with goldfish crackers to keep them quiet.   We could take our time in MOMA or get cookies at Momofuku Milk Bar for breakfast.  Or….obnoxiously insert ourselves into the Today Show—moment of fame!  My mind swirls with so many memories from those five days—and if you know me at all,  you can bet I have WAY too many pictures to document everything.  I hope to share some highlights here soon, but for now, I will say it with worlds.  I am thankful.

So…happy Black Friday.  Hopefully we can pull ourselves out of the head places that make today feel dark and challenging.  To see that Eucharesteo, or thanksgiving,  as Ann Voskamp reminds, always precedes the miracle.  Blessings to each of you as we head into the season of Advent.  I am reminding myself that less is best.  Less crazy busy plans.  Fewer advent traditions that become advent to do’s that lead to losing sight of the whole point.  May we live in a place of thanksgiving, finding ways to be thankful no matter the circumstances.

Frenchtown, New Jersey

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give,

and life cannot be rich without such gratitude.

It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements

compared with what we owe to the help of others.” 
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

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