Counting our blessings

Each year at this time, we focus for just a little while on all we have to be thankful for. It gets sandwiched in somewhere between the Thanksgiving sale of the year, the message to shop, buy, 6-25 Page 4A.inddsave, spend money and eat as much as you can.

Centuries ago, a group of people who came to this country ill-prepared and ignorant somehow survived. Many died before the first year was completed, and all suffered hunger and cold.

Now those phrases roll easily off the tongue and have lost meaning through endless repetition. But to any of us who have experienced bone-chilling cold — even briefly — we can imagine what that would have been like. Few of us have experience of days on end without any food at all.

Most of us take so for granted the comfort and security of our lives that we give little more than lip service to counting our blessings.

To those of us who experienced the weeks without electricity during a recent cold and icy winter, we all remember the ecstasy when electricity was restored. We endured those few weeks, but nobody enjoyed them. And we had clothing and insulated houses designed to keep us all from freezing to death, as well as sandwiches and milk.

It’s a shame that a holiday intended for thankfulness has turned into a giant national shopping frenzy.

What would happen if we didn’t participate?

Apparently the economy would crash.

So how can we change the cycle of the sometimes-obscene materialism that people get infected with?

For one thing, we could stay out of stores on Thanksgiving Day. Isn’t Black Friday enough of an opportunity to spend?

If you only have so much money for this giant shopping excursion, how will spreading the experience over two days give you more money to spend?

They’re probably hoping we’ll whip out those credit cards and rack up huge debt we’ll spend the rest of the year paying for.

Well, that’s not what I’m hoping for.

My wish is for families to be together and enjoy that rare occasion when the purpose of the gathering is just to enjoy being together.

There will be no meetings, no schedules — other than when the turkey comes out of the oven — and no sports practices or games children have to participate in.

Parents won’t be dropping off or picking up children from different sites all over town after wolfing down hamburgers in the car after a quick trip through the drive-through.

And although this might be a fruitless wish, it would be great if no one brought a cellphone to the dinner table to text during the meal and actually had conversations with the other people sitting at the table. This would include making eye contact and listening to other people. It could happen.

We should make the most of the opportunity. It’s just once a year we have to think about this stuff. My advice? Go for it.