Site Meter December, 2013 | Blake Alexander Hammerton

Is Thanksgiving a Joke in American Culture?

On December 3, 2013, in Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Black Friday Death Counter

The column I wrote for the December issue of the Garland Rowlett Messenger caused quite a stir. But it’s not wrong. In fact, it’s so right it hurts. What do you think? Leave a comment!


Every year we, as Americans, gather around our dinner tables with our family, friends, or both, and we break bread in a tradition of being grateful for the people, opportunities, and possessions we have in our lives. Some families do not begin eating until each person has spoken briefly about what he or she is thankful for that year.

We consume an average of 4500 calories each, and watch football on the TV between rounds of green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. With stuffed bellies and family gathered together, life is pretty good, right? That’s what Thanksgiving is all about – being grateful for what you have. This couldn’t be further from the truth in American culture.

Thanksgiving is a joke, and millions of people are in on it.

Thanksgiving is about the latest and greatest Black Friday sale. It’s about carbing up the day before the big shopping marathon. We eat big meals to fuel our bodies so we can then trample over the weaker of our species when those glass doors at Wal-Mart slide open at 5am.

We spend one day together feeling thankful for what we have, and the next day clamoring for materials we simply cannot live another second without – and we’ll hurt each other to get them.

The image at the top of this column is a screenshot of the current deaths and injuries related to Black Friday shopping excursions. It began in 2008 as a way to record the needless violence that occurs due to our need to have more stuff in our lives.

This is shameful.

This is the opposite of nourishing what matters.

This, of course, doesn’t reflect the actions of everyone, but it does reflect a cultural pattern in this country, and it’s not a good one, no matter how you look at it.

I challenge you to step back from all the commercialism of the holiday season, and genuinely reflect on your life for a moment. What are you grateful for this year? Who are you grateful for this year?

My invitation to you is to make this season about the gifts of gratitude, appreciation, and love – not making sure your loved ones have the latest electronics come Christmas morning. Spend a little more time showing them you care and less time making sure you have enough space on the credit card to get them a PS4.

It’s time to treat the holidays like more than just a gift exchange party. It’s time we Nourish What Matters.

What do you think? Leave a comment so we can connect.

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