Thanksgiving is already a memory, which seems a shame when I consider how many people seem to save their celebration of plenty and their gratitude for one day on the calendar; there is so much good in life that is plentiful, and so much to be grateful for. I woke this morning, after a restless night, still feeling appreciative, still grateful, still thankful…and…I think I’m also still feeling a bit overfed, actually. The U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude and plenty taken to excess. The food was exceptional, and having chosen to go out for our holiday meal this year, there was no stress around preparation, serving, or clean up…a lavish meal, an experience of gratitude and plenty, and more time spent on enjoying the company than laboring to create that moment of joy.

I did miss the cooking. I also missed the hours and days of conversation and planning leading up to the meal. Connecting joyously in advance of the holiday to imagine, and plan, and reminisce about other holidays, other meals, other recipes. This holiday was scaled down, and fairly quiet by choice and by popular vote. My enjoyment of planning and anticipation are not universally shared, and this year it was nearly impossible to get a single conversation going about Thanksgiving in advance of the holiday. I enjoyed the holiday outside the kitchen, as an exception and a treat, and it was lovely that there was simply nothing to fuss about, and no stress or frustration. No ‘holiday temper’.

Here it is “Black Friday”.  There will be terrible shopping anecdotes aplenty, and people – a lot of people – will behave as though they’ve never even heard of gratitude, thanks, or compassion. People who were dishing meals to the homeless yesterday may well be queued up outside some retailer today, waiting for the doors to open so they can begin to claw their way angrily through the throng of other shoppers to assuage their greed for goods at a low price. The year-long struggle to thrive erupts on Black Friday into a furor of entitlement leading up to a holiday about giving…revealing some ugly qualities of character among us long enough for some appalling video to reach the internet.  The greed is emblematic of the sickness taking us over. More for less. More goods for less money – regardless what it costs to produce those goods. More results for less effort. More. On Black Friday sufficiency is removed from the American lexicon, for more than a few people.

Gratitude isn’t really about ‘more’, though, is it?

A path, a journey, a moment.

A path, a journey, a moment.

It’ll be a quiet Black Friday for me – I’m taking advantage of some really great deals, today, too. I am off work today, and having that leisure time is an incredible value in additional time to read, to write, to meditate – to enjoy my experience of the day. I’ll take time to meditate at leisure at no cost, free, and if I act now I’ll benefit immediately! Yoga, writing, painting, reading… all at my fingertips, with no more expense than the investment in time and effort – the savings are huge! I’ll likely go for a walk at some point, and enjoy the loveliness of autumn before it becomes winter, and consider the holidays to come as I walk. I may spend some part of the day or weekend preparing for the holidays, it’s true, even being involved in gifts-to-be; I enjoy the inspiring work of hand-making gifts, gifts that are 100% not about money; paintings, clay figures, poetry, books I have loved and want to share, small tokens of great delight and fondness. The gifts I enjoy best – both giving and receiving – are the ones that connect me most closely to people, whatever sort of gifts those turn out to be. A great gift isn’t about what it cost, it’s about what it means.

I’ve spent days wracked with anxiety, but I woke without it this morning. Promising. Today is a good day to journey safely, and be mindful of what matters most. Today is a good day to spend more time than money. Today is a good day to turn away from greed. Today is a good day for gratitude, thankfulness, and perspective. Today is a good day to change the world.