black-friday-macys-2012Words: The Egyptian One

It’s freezing outside, and winter is officially here.  Thanksgiving is tomorrow. You know what that means?  No, not family time, or copious amounts of tryptophan consumption.

It’s Black Friday.

The one day of the year, where stores are open overnight and it’s socially acceptable to literally camp out in a tent in front of Best Buy to make sure you’re first in line to get a ticket for that 60” Smart 3D HD LED (insert other random acronyms here) television for half the price of its value.

Capitalism at its finest.

But, there is always a thought that crosses my mind every year: The one day dedicated to being thankful for what you have is followed by the one day where there’s a national frenzy dedicated to getting more. Does no one else find the irony in that?

Now, I don’t want to be a hypocrite, as I have been a participator in the Black Friday “festivities” myself.  I’ve actually been sent out, by my mother no less, to purchase some luggage and boots on Thursday night. Under duress, might I add.  Though large crowds of rabid shoppers make me nervous and I have neither the patience nor the temperament to deal with them, my mother is too small, too fragile and not at all intimidating enough to handle this high-stress situation. (That and those boots are pretty cute and we wear the same size.)

Still, seeing people trample each other, throwing ‘bows in people’s faces and damn near suplexing them to get a blender is a little crazy. Scratch that, is crazy.

My best friend just came back from a 2-month mission trip in Bolivia last Wednesday.  Her stories of the people she met are humbling to me but I know that they cannot affect me a fraction of how they affect her.  Her living conditions there were too modest; a one room apartment, with a cot to sleep on and a shower with hot water on a good day. Compared to the Bolivians, however, she was practically living like a queen.

She told me about a family of six living in huts with the ground as their floor.  Two mattresses for them all to sleep on, the father making just enough money to meet the bare minimum. The church and the missionaries provided whatever was missing.  Yet they were truly content.  The kids didn’t need a Nintendo DS, or an XBOX One to make them happy.  They didn’t need Facebook as a social network, they had their own: outside, with the other neighborhood children.

When she was saying her goodbyes to the villagers, a little girl no older than 8 years old gave her this dirty plastic generic CareBear toy.  For a child to have nothing but to still give her something, literally broke her heart. And mine. She said that was the most humbling moment she had experienced in her life.

It’s sad that we have all of these amenities and privileges and we treat them as rights.  It’s not your right to have a MacBook or a Playstation 4.  We are so lucky to be allowed to bask in so many material things, yet in the past year anti-depressants and anxiety medications have been on an all-time high. The holiday season is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year” yet its also the time when the suicide rate hits its peak.

While you’re sitting around with all of your relatives (even the ones that annoy the crap out of you), relish in the fact that you are there. Truly savor the food that you’re eating, as others aren’t as lucky. Really appreciate your surroundings. Some of us are in school, (or going back—shout out to Brando), and I know getting an education is not really cherished as it should be, especially when finals time is racing towards us. Enjoy the fact that you can go to school anyways. Look up at the roof and the walls and the windows and be thankful that they protect you from the harsh bone piercing cold outside. It’s the little things that matter the most, and we rarely pay attention to them.

And if you do brave the masses this Friday (or even Thursday night), be respectable of your fellow man. Everyone is naturally on edge, and words will be tossed, but a little respect will go a long way. And if people can recognize the honor in you, you can truly change someone’s day.

I’m not about to pull an Alyssa Milano and ask you to “reach into your pocket and give 50 cents a day” to feed a starving child in Africa (though I highly admire the people who do) but I feel like I wouldn’t be wrong to ask you to just appreciate life a little more this Thanksgiving.