Perhaps you, too, felt an uneasiness over photos in the news these past few days, images contrasting the simplicity of what matters most with our craving for what matters least.
There will be some who’ll say, “Chill out, you’re taking this much too seriously.”
But when we see those perennial pictures of civic titans such as Tom Menino, and now Marty Walsh, serving sumptuous meals to guests who are homeless, hungry and destitute, it draws our attention to the fact that so many have so little, reminding us we’re called to be our brother’s keeper.
That’s more than a Biblical mandate; indeed, it’s been an American concept through all of the generations that preceded ours.
Thanksgiving, even by its name, was a reminder, reaffirming a great Gaither lyric: “The things that matter most in this life can never be held in our hands.”
We always knew that what mattered most wasn’t gadgets or flashy items; the older we got the more we understood that the things that mattered most weren’t things at all. The really good stuff had no price tag.
But corporate America doesn’t want to hear such sloppy sentimentality, especially when there’s a buck to be made.
So, thumbing its nose at the fabric of our culture, it appropriated Thanksgiving as a launching pad for frenzied, obsessive consumption, as if anything we purchased could be worth more than what we pushed aside.
A day of rest, a time for reflection, an occasion for reunions, that’s what Thanksgiving was, making it America’s quintessential family day.
Those folks lining up for a free meal came from families, too, and who knows what their stories are. It really makes no difference, but without saying a word, they remind us to be grateful for blessings easily taken for granted.
When the NFL decided to offer its tantalizing product on Thanksgiving, there were some howls, but at least the sports junkies remained under the same roof as everyone else in the family.
Now, with corporate mercenaries champing to get into our pockets, we’ve become whipped by this Black Friday aberration, which frequently begins as the sun sets Thursday afternoon, languishing for hours and being jostled by the hordes, all to save a few shekels on a printer or a TV set.
The savings may be good but, make no mistake, the cost is awfully high.
More and more, it seems, we know the price of everything and the value of nothing.That’s what’s happened to Thanksgiving in America, and if you lament it, too, be assured you’re not alone.