The Commercialization of Thankfulness

If you know me at all, you have probably figured out that I am an “against the crowd” type of girl.

I hate hype.

For instance, I absolutely love the Harry Potter series because I think J.K. Rowling is a brilliant writer, but you will not see me in line to see the movie on opening day. Nor will you see me toting around my book, going on and on about how much I love Harry or Ron or Professor Dumbledore… there are already enough weirdos out there doing just that. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are millions of them.

So if you ever catch me with a Harry Potter book, it will be under the covers in the safety of my own four walls. The commercialization drives me crazy, and I refuse to be associated with it.

Which brings me to other points.

Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This is the time of year when people who normally aren’t very nice make a roundabout turn. They smile at the dinner table. They write out their “I am thankful for…” lists for everyone to read. They carve the turkey and watch the annual feel-good Thanksgiving movie. They say thank you in exchange for the box after box of confection goodies.

And then they complain about the long lines the next day.

Here’s a thought: how about we practice Thanksgiving everyday of the year instead of one day out of the 365? It might make the world a tad bit more holly jolly.

And not just during the holiday season.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to see thankfulness firsthand. I was served by the most humble men and women I have ever  met. I may have been the one dishing out the Thanksgiving dinner, but they were the ones making the impact. They were without homes. Some of them were without families. Most of them were without jobs, and all of them were without the commercialized Thanksgiving holiday.

Yet they were happy; they were thankful.

These men and women who had the right to sit on the sidewalk and bemoan society and life instead clung to the hope of the season: God. They saw His hand in their circumstances. They thanked Him for providing the meal and fellowship. They were grateful that a God that big would pay attention to them in all their mess.

They knew the truth of the season.

As Christians, we know the truth. We know “the reason for the season”, but we don’t always live by it. It’s easy to get caught up in the “things” that come along with the cool breeze. It’s easy to focus on buying Christmas cards instead of taking the time out of our busy schedules to stop and tell someone how much we appreciate them.

It’s easier to buy into the commercialization, but it’s not better. Christmas cards, winter treats, and “I’m thankful for..” phrases are all fine and dandy, but there is a greater reason for the season. Those things don’t give us the hope. Those things don’t point to the truth. Those things are just things that aid in our quest for something more.

As you get ready to lavish your gratitude and gifts on those in your life, remember that sometimes the most special gift is the one that comes out of your own life, not the Hallmark aisle at the grocery store.

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23 thoughts on “The Commercialization of Thankfulness

    • I agree with the gist of this post. But Mary, I think gratitude is something even the “secular” can practice as well as Christians.

      • You’re right, Kevin, and I apologize if I offended anyone with that comment (I should have proofread it one more time before pushing send). There are many people who have better attitudes and definitely act graciously than some “Christians” I know.

      • You weren’t offensive at all! I just thought gratitude was one practice we could all have in common. But, of course, it needs to be sincere!

  1. That is extremely well put. You seem to be very good at writing. You should write a book some day.

    You know that part where you talked about how people usually only give thanks on that one holiday and then don’t do it again and instead wait until next year? This is what I think. Maybe it’s because “society” thinks that people need anticipation and anxiety to live. Maybe its just one of those crazy man-made desires.

    • I do completely agree with you, I just wanted to put what I think “society” thinks, but what “society” thinks is not my views at all.

  2. I had a similar conversation the other day. When I hear someone down the holiday season because of what they deem contrived thankfulness and politeness, I say, “Bah Humbug! All that good faith and cheer is welcome anytime.”

    I just love the holiday season for that very reason. Many people think twice and act nice 🙂

  3. Great point! It is crazy that even in our “Thankfulness”, marketers have convinced us to buy more stuff and somehow that will show our thankfulness and gratitude. When, like you said, thankfulness and gratitude is better represented by serving food to those less fortune or giving of our time to volunteer. I didn’t see Jesus go to the local mall and buy a gift for His disciples when he wanted to show He appreciated them. He got down on His knees and washed their feet. Keep up the good work!

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  5. Your blog is growing way too fast to catch up!
    This entry is stating the very truth. Your words are smart as always.
    People these days are too afraid of being not popular and worring too much about money. The embarrassment between silent strangers are totally normal, but the embarrassment between silent “friends” freaks people out. The real question goes:”Are they really my friends?” I think two close friends sitting together, quietly, is a rather enjoyable scene.
    I’m glad to hear that you went to help out the homeless on Thanksgiving. I bet it was an impact. I guess most of the homeless have been through some sudden “subtraction” in their life, so thankfulness bursts out after every little bit of “addition”. People like us who own warm houses and sweet family, however, are often obsessed with all kinds of “add-on”s we have got. Reminding myself the ONE is always watching and all my possesions count nothing compared to HIM is rather important. Yeah, bear subtraction in mind and be thankful to the additions…
    Anyway, thanks for your hard work piling this blog. I really should come by more often. Wish you be smart and beautiful as always.

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