Christmas is upon us, and it’s not even Thanksgiving.
This year, we have six fewer days for shopping between Christmas and Thanksgiving, and many big box stores are opening earlier than ever. Take Best Buy, which for the first time is opening 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day – when most of us are either comatose from grandma’s famous pies or still eating our fill of turkey and mashed ‘taters. Welcome to Gray Thursday.
Granted, it’s become a family tradition in itself for many to camp outside high-profile places such as Best Buy, or to get up at the crack of dawn to line up outside the mall. And many of us are brave enough to weather the madness at department stores and outlets just to snag a few deals, or at least to soak in the excitement of the holidays and be among the crowds.
But with the advent of early openings, has the meaning of the holidays as a time to give been lost to a consumerist society bent on purchasing good deals in place of time with friends and family over a good meal? Or, to take a more measured approach, is it more plausible to believe that we are capable of balancing both valuable family time with the fun of getting into the season?
It’s an interesting line to draw, one different for each individual and his or her family. It’s up to each person to reconcile the desire to buy material goods — there’s nothing inherently wrong with getting gifts for others – with the deeper need to cultivate relationships with people they love the most. That often means patiently giving your time, sitting down to listen to someone else when it’s most inconvenient for you, to hear what’s going on in their life, to make them laugh, to share parts of your life.
And that can’t be replaced with a material gift.