Turkey vs. Reindeer

A few days ago my friend Ben Johnson (profile name: Ben Jay) started a group on Facebook called “Advertise Thanksgiving”. I would link you to it, but I don’t know how to link to a Facebook group.

Here are a few lines from his description of it:

in my opinion, gratitude is one of the things we (as a society) need most. all of us.
we take so much of what we have for granted. everyday. and we don’t even realize it. religious or nonreligious. (myself, included).

it’s time to make a change.
everyone recognizes how ridiculous it is that christmas sales start so soon. …so let’s start doing something about it. people CAN make a change. not just at christmas season, but every season.

Of course it’s nothing new to get out there and talk about how much we take for granted, and how we should be more thankful, but humor me for a second here:

Do you suppose there’s a reason why retailers downplay Thanksgiving? Unless you’re a grocery store, you don’t have a lot to gain from the holiday itself. But you do have a lot to lose.

What would happen to Christmas (Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, etc…) if people really celebrated Thanksgiving? I mean really… like going beyond the turkeys and stuffing and cranberry sauce and football games and cornucopias and little pilgrim candles and falling asleep in the recliner. What if people stopped what they’re doing and said “Wow, we really have everything we need”? “In fact, we have far more than we need! If somebody told us that we need something we don’t have, we would laugh heartily and fill up another trunkfull to haul over to the Goodwill.

America… we are stuff-saturated! It brings to mind an episode of The Office where the boss, Michael Scott, gets a second job because he’s so deeply in debt. When he finally concedes to debt counseling, the counselor looks over his finances, and gives him the skinny. He says (and I paraphrase,) “Michael, I’ve put all your expenditures into three columns. This first column is for needs. The second column is for wants. And the third column is for the things you’ve bought that no one… anywhere… could ever need… or want… ever.”

If it wasn’t so bad for the environment, I would suggest we pile up all these things that no one could ever really need and have a spectacular bonfire. Why give things to charity that are just going to needlessly clutter someone else’s life?

So maybe Thanksgiving should be a time to simplify. Because what better way is there to express gratefulness for having all you need, then by giving those things a little elbow room?

And when the Christmas commercials begin assault your simplified senses, you can laugh heartily, and take another heaping, thankful bite from your tukey, stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwich.

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About rwiksell

I am a former church-planting pastor, currently active as a wedding minister, and the leader of a spiritual discussion group at a local bar called Scotch & Soda. By day, I am the graphic designer and production manager for a historic print shop called Traders Printing, located in downtown Springfield, Missouri. My wife Christina and I have been married for 9 years now, and we live in a turn-of-the-century bungalow on the north side of Springfield with our dog Abbi, and our cat Charlie.
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10 Responses to Turkey vs. Reindeer

  1. Caleb says:

    Ryan, once again, great blog.

  2. Beloved says:

    Remember Steve Martin’s SNL skit, “Don’t Buy Stuff You Don’t Need”? Oh my gosh, it’s the greatest.Seriously, though. Follow your thought through to the economy, particularly right now It’s ironic… i just blogged today about this. Our economic skyscraper has been built upon the economics of excess… <>increasing<> excess… staying ahead of inflation. If we all truly celebrated Thanksgiving—and not just in November—we’d have one heck of an economic “pruning”. If only we could go back… to a time when living within (or below) one’s means was status quo. Could we all, all of a sudden, start living that way without completely undoing the economy? I wish I could say yes, but I really don’t know. I mean, I think I know, and I think the answer is no. But that makes me sick just thinking about it.I love you man. Thanks for being so sensible.

  3. The Coreman says:

    I need to see that skit.You don’t need to waste any time worrying about what would happen to the US economy if people all of a sudden started living within their means. Because, most likely, it won’t happen. And if it does, it won’t be sudden.

  4. Matt says:

    i guess i worry that they won’t as well, b/c the only alternative is getting deeper into the mess we’re in. excess got us into this mess and excess seems to be the only way out. but then it’ll lead us back in.

  5. Caleb says:

    If we lived without much excess then most of our money would be either in savings, investments, toward our business, or given to charity. Wouldn’t all three of those be great for the economy?

  6. The Coreman says:

    I’ve often thought that… and I’m sure you’re right.It’s just that, in the near-term, a mass exodus from the land of shopaholistan would mean the failure of thousands and thousands of businesses.Would we eventually come to a better place? Probably, but the devastation in the near-term would be almost total.

  7. Caleb says:

    Yeah, you’re probably right. In any case, your post seemed to be directed more toward the individual and not meant to be some kinda market revolution. Knowing that you have everything you need: great concept. I spend so much time obsessed with getting something that I just know will give me the life I am craving that I miss the good stuff right in front of me.

  8. Beloved says:

    hearkens to mutually-assured destruction, doesn’t it?caleb, huge point. living below our means is the <>only<> way to live out the Gospel in love to those less fortunate than us. how many people actually sacrifice <>for the sake of others<>? we might do it in hopes that God will multiply our reward, and he no doubt will, at least in eternity. but how many people budget for ‘charity’? i don’t have any logs in my eye on this one, but i still need God to constantly help me to be more grateful for what i have and aware of how much others don’t have.

  9. tabitha says:

    this (as well as what ben said at open mic) makes me want to sell all of the stuff i own that i have no use for

  10. T-Dogg says:

    <>“this (as well as what ben said at open mic) makes me want to sell all of the stuff i own that i have no use for”<>Does it really?

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