There is a delicious irony about Thanksgiving kicking off the
Christmas season in most peoples' minds. Not only has Thanksgiving
become more about turkey and football, but it is immediately followed
by that great orgy of retail shopping called Black Friday. By the
time Christmas day actually hits, we're wired and tired from the
stress of gifts, decorations, and family. Gratitude is too often the
last thing we feel by then.
If there's one thing I want to focus really hard on this season, it's
thankfulness. Discontentment is an insidious emotion that has a way
of creeping into every aspect of our lives in this country and in this
day and age. Whether it is seductive images on TV and the Internet or
the myth of the "perfect"
girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/mom/dad/children, we can very easily
become disillusioned with our own immediate family, because they are
unacceptably . . . human. We complain about our jobs and our economy
even though our unemployment rate and our commercial robustness is the
envy of the entire world. We are never satisfied with our
possessions, ever chasing after things newer and faster and shinier:
never mind that there are more people in the world who live on less
than what many of us spent on cell phone service than there are who
live on more.
As a free market capitalist and an organizational strategist, I'm not
saying that consumerism and high expectations are bad. It is a good
thing that there is a depth and breadth of selection in the typical
chain drug store that would astound most of the rest of the world's
population, or that we should want more from our employers and our
retailers and our governments. But when we are consumed as consumers to the point of
perpetual dissatisfaction, then we truly have made our consumption
like an addictive drug that offers the high we need, only to bring us
so low we think we can only feel right again with another hit.
It is good to be critical and demanding. But it is not good to be
ungrateful and entitled, at least not with the many riches we enjoy in
this time. I don't know that my holidays can be completely without
stress. But, by the grace of God - and say that literally and seriously and not flippantly - here's to a holidays in which I am completely satisfied
and genuinely thankful.