I was recently a little disturbed as I watched a commercial for a special on Black Friday that essentially advocated changing Thanksgiving into Thanksgetting. Apparently this term has been used for a few years now, though this is the first I had seen it blasting into my sights.
“Really!” I thought and said out loud. This must be the epitome of American consumerism and self-centeredness. It is not so much that it is wrong for us to get a get deal on something we might purchase for ourselves, but the thought of changing Thanksgiving to Thanksgetting?
What would be involved in this switch? How would we be thinking and experiencing life differently if this movement takes roots in us personally and as a culture. There may be many differences between the two, but let me reflect a little on what I think is a significant shift.
Thanksgiving demands that I reflect on my past, that I pause and consider what I have received, treasure all of it as a gift, and appreciate the people, the provisions, the surprises, and the fruit of both my work and efforts in the past and the grace that joins with it. Thanksgiving involves being aware of countless blessings in my life, a humility that receives while understanding that all I have is not simply deserved, and a contentment, joy, and peace in what I am blessed with.
Thanksgetting on the other hand reflects on the possibilities of what I get in the future. It demands longing, lists, and a sense of discontentment that envisions some new thing that will bless my life and bring a greater satisfaction. It turns the focus off how I have been blessed to what I desire, what I want, what I believe will make me happy. If my focus is to thank for only what I am getting, only what’s to come, only what I haven’t attained already, where is the actual room for “thanks?”
Clearly, cultivating these two different approaches to life produces different fruit in us, mind, body, and spirit. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of the historical Thanksgiving events; what is it that the early Pilgrims were thankful for. Perhaps a pause that allows space to consider what we have is much needed in our hearts and souls.
Another trend has started in the past few year. “Advent Conspiracy” (http://www.adventconspiracy.org/) moves a very different direction than Thanksgetting. Love all, give more, worship fully, and spend less are the four tenants of the movement. Perhaps this is a trend that we more desperately need in our broken lives and world.