A Sacred Gathering
This post was written by Ariana Diaz.
Year after year, many travel to be with family, some gather within their own home, and some use the day to shop for unbeatable deals. Historically, Pilgrims that emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s brought the tradition of ‘Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving’ with them to New England. The first tradition of feast began in 1621.
Through a religious lens, it was believed that this day should be kept as a holy day where people give thanks to God for receiving the land of Virginia, land they believed God provided. They would then share a meal together with their best harvest. As a side note, there needs to be recognition of how these English settlers acquired this land. Within history, it is mistakenly misinterpreted that English settlers arrived in a land & peacefully began their lives there. However, indigenous people that had preoccupied that land called that territory ‘home’, and that cannot go unrecognized.
Today one can see the Thanksgiving tradition turning into earlier and earlier store openings for the Black Friday event. There is a joy and rush of getting little sleep Thanksgiving evening, in order to grab the great deals in the morning. Even in the past few years, stores have been opening starting at 10 pm, however, JcPenny’s opened today at 2 pm, cutting off any reasonable time that people would have with their family. As consumers, there is a choice to a participate in this day that seems to have shifted focus from a time of gathering around a table of food to trying to score the biggest deals. Some companies such as REI, participate in a movement called #OptOutside choosing to close their doors on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, giving their workers paid time off. This is one example of how a company can combat the consumerism mindset in America.
I believe that as a Christian, there is a duty to let this day be of thankfulness, not just to others but an intentional Sabbath to God. Scripturally, God himself rested after he created the earth. In the Gospels, Jesus is seen gathering, with the centerpiece being food. When will we grasp the idea of resting with one another? When will store openings be too early? When will one say that spending time with their family is more important than saving a few dollars? I believe that there needs to be a shift in one’s mindset and a reflection back onto the thankfulness that Christians should have for Christ.
The holidays can be difficult for many, and my prayer is one can find one single thing to be thankful for during this time of year.