Are there Black Friday Sales on Happiness?

            The older I get, the more I realize Thanksgiving is such an awesome holiday. There’s no pressure to buy gifts, put up decorations, make cards, or all of the other jazz that comes with many of the others (don’t get me wrong I LOVE doing all that for Christmas but I can only take so much). Thanksgiving is literally just about great food, and even better company. I love just being with my family and eating awesome food and laughing about all the fun memories we’ve had over the years. Once the meal is over, we all sit with our tummies full and our hearts even fuller, reflecting on all of our good fortune.

And then...the stores open...

Suddenly, all of that gratitude and contentment is put on the shelf with last year’s fads. The time has come to rush down to the store and wait in line for the next whatchamacallit or whosie whatsit. And once the doors actually open, excited consumers race in and forget all about the stuff they have and their families still cleaning up the kitchen and begin the mass panic that is Black Friday. People who are normally rational and polite people become monsters in fear of losing out on the best bargain on the hot ticket items.

            I see that I’m dating myself a bit, with the rise of technology, most shopping can be done from the comfort of home, but isn’t the basic principle the same? Black Friday always gets me thinking how suddenly people switch from being content in the presence of their loved ones to being desperate for the newest stuff. And I can’t help but wonder: what are we demonstrating our priorities are?

            I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. It was essentially begs the same question, when did we start caring more about stuff than people?  The truth of the matter is we will never own all the things we want. There will always be something else we can add to our life-wish list that we feel we make us happier once we have it. When we finally get that thing, it may make us happy for a while, but then it starts to become old, then the newest version is released, then we get bored of it. Amazingly, it doesn’t give us all the advertisements said it would. We are left back where we started. We can keep circulating in this cycle, buy, get bored, throw away, buy, get bored, throw away… But when will we find something that fills us up for good?

Well, for starters, try looking around the table on Thanksgiving Day. I realize not everyone has been blessed to have a family that really feels like family, but actually related or not, think of the people who make you smile. Think of the people who make you laugh; those people you know you could call asking for help in the middle of the night and they would be right over. Instead of investing your money on stuff, invest your time in those people. My boyfriend and I are trying something new this year where rather than buy each other presents we’re going to see a concert and have a meaningful experience together, and I’m so excited to do so! We’ve realized that all the stuff we get for each other will stop working, will fade away, will lose shimmer and shine and eventually collect dust. Rather, our memories of our fun day together will live on as long as we do; and will only become more precious in times of distance.

            I’m not saying it’s terrible to be excited about good deals, or horrible to go shopping or enjoy getting new stuff, who doesn’t? The problem is when those things hold more value to us than those we love. This Thanksgiving, holiday season, and always, remember what matters and will keep you happy: love, friendship, spirituality, gentleness, and genuine joy. I loved the last line of Minimalism, “Use stuff and love people, because the opposite never works.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!