October 24, 2014
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Thanks and giving

Thanksgiving is a holiday of consumption. As Americans, we’ve crafted a multi-faceted type of consumerism for the Thursday feast and Black Friday dash that follows.

First we stuff our grocery carts with food and then we fill our bellies with the meal we’ve prepared. In tryptophan-induced stupors we sit over cups of coffee and iron out game plans on how to most efficiently conquer the retail store of our choosing.

On one side of the spectrum, Thanksgiving is a fruitful celebration of bounty, but stripped down to its worst, the holiday weekend has become 48 hours of teeth gnashing and crazed, credit-card brandishing consumerism.

Consumers have become so impatient that they’re now finding fault with decade-old laws that prohibit retailers from opening today. Rhode Island’s “blue laws” have come under fire this week, and retailers have pushed for stores to open earlier on Thanksgiving eve to further cash in on the Black Friday rush. But the same laws that have been un-enforced, repealed or even deemed unconstitutional in other states remain active and observed here in Rhode Island.

Sure, these “blue laws” have religious roots, but let’s consider this for a moment: Is there anything wrong with having a full day to put everything on hold for the sake of family, togetherness and a nationwide expression of gratitude? We don’t think so. There’ll be plenty of time for holiday shopping and commerce come Friday.

Offering reprieve from the retail madness is the 16th Annual Buy Nothing Day, where people can come and exchange old winter coats for new ones. No cash or credit cards needed. The event will take place at YMCAs throughout the state Friday. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the mad dash to buy, buy, buy.

Now we’re not saying there’s anything wrong with celebrating the day with a large feast and a trip to the mall, as long as while we’re consuming we’re mindful of how we can do the converse: give.

So many organizations have been giving back to the community, including Neighbors Helping Neighbors and local churches.

St. Gregory the Great Church prepares 150 Thanksgiving baskets and St. Kevin, St. Peter, St. Benedict, St. Rita, Sts. Rose and Clement, St. Catherine and New Life Churches all contribute more than 320 baskets collectively.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors collects these donations and distributes them to those in need, ensuring that no one goes hungry on this day of thanks. As of Tuesday, 558 families and individuals had received baskets or store vouchers for local markets.

So although we won’t have early-bird hours at stores after turkey time today, that’s no reason to be “blue.” Let’s remember the true meaning of the holiday, and take a moment to put everything on hold for the sake of thanks and giving.


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