This week we celebrate two American holidays, one old and one new -- Thanksgiving and Black Friday. On the first we enjoy a meal with our families and spend some time thinking about what we have and giving thanks. On the second we wake up early, think about what we don't have, and go compete with millions of other people to get lots of stuff.
This year I'm going to celebrate only Thanksgiving. And I am going to protest Black Friday so thoroughly that I plan to do no Christmas shopping at all. This year it's going to be Thanksgiving from Thursday onward. This doesn't mean that I'm not going to be giving gifts this season (don't worry, family) -- I am only going to give gifts more completely, gifts in line with Thanksgiving's ideals.
Thanksgiving is a time of thanks for the gifts we have been given -- our families; the soil from which we gain our sustenance; the work through which we exercise our creative, intellectual and social powers; our friends; our pleasures and even the sorrows we learn and grow from. These gifts mean that we are talented people. Having been given gifts, we also have the ability to produce gifts. We can make things, sing songs, write stories, build structures, harvest crops, sew clothes, knit scarves -- gift comes from gift.
Why not give presents that come directly from our personal gifts? If you don't think you can make your own, dig more deeply within yourself and be creative. If you don't know how to can, cook, sew, knit, or build, then learn how to do these tasks. Be well-rounded. Offer services as well as products. Give gift certificates for what you can do. Give time -- it's the most valuable of all commodities.
We are dying of consumption, and it is time we all followed Tom Hodgkinson's proclamation: "Stop consuming, start producing!"
When we use our gifts and develop them and when we see others using our gifts, then Thanksgiving is easy -- we can celebrate, relax and enjoy Earth’s bounty. We can welcome those tired of buying and wasting. We must be producers and co-producers. Give thanks for creation, give thanks for creativity -- give your gifts.
Story by Ragan Sutterfield. This article originally appeared in Plenty in November 2008. The story was added to MNN.com.