Many reasons to give thanks, pay it forward
The good Doctor would have wept.
But rather than curse the darkness, we will light a candle for Thanksgiving, lest that holiday become even more of a launchpad for the holiday shopping season.
It's too late to take it back fully, now that Walmart and other stores have declared that their stores will be open on Thanksgiving night. It's unfortunate that a family holiday has become so taking employees — excuse us, "associates" — away from their families, lest you be forced to wait six or even 12 more hours before rushing in where angels fear to tread in search of bargains.
To be clear, this newspaper's dedicated employees will be hard at work on Thanksgiving Day, making sure the Reformer reaches stores and driveways on Friday morning. The rest of the media industry will be working as well. But we in the news business know going in that it's a 365-day enterprise and that holiday work is required. Retail employees, many of whom are paid a pittance and do not receive health insurance, have no such expectation. They should at least have the holiday off.
So we're here to declare that Thanksgiving, for all its complications, inconveniences and inherent contradictions, is and should be a family holiday that inspires us to do something better than shop. Rather than sacrifice the bonds of family and friendship to the machinery of consumerism, we should take the day at face value and practice both thanks and giving.
First, thanks: Even in an uncertain age, when powerful interests are arrayed against 99 percent of our country for the benefit of the wealthiest 1 percent, we still enjoy a high degree of freedom and a high standard of living relative to the rest of the world. Imperfect as we are, and as polarized as we have become, we still have each other, and that matters.
With that thanks comes the responsibility to pay it forward.
Locally, there are many opportunities for you to give and to volunteer. We're directly involved in two: United Way's Kids in Coats, which provides winter clothing for children in need, and Feed Your Mind, Feed A Family, in which, with help from Hannaford supermarkets, we donate a meal to Groundworks Collaborative for every newspaper subscription received between now and Dec. 18.
There are many more opportunities, through civic organizations, faith congregations and in your own circle of friends and family, to put the giving in Thanksgiving. If you want to take back the holiday season from the madness of Black Friday shopping, it's a great way to start.
Norman Rockwell's "Freedom From Want" Thanksgiving painting, with its impossibly large turkey and Rockwell's Arlington friends as its cast of characters, is an archetype created in the uncertain early days of World War II and with the Great Depression a recent memory. It's the holiday as that generation of Americans imagined and wished it to be, not as it was for all.
If it's like your reality, all the more reason to give thanks — and all the more reason to pay it forward with those who are struggling.
Wherever and however you gather, Happy Thanksgiving.
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