Choose Joy.


A day of heritage and tradition in a country.  A day that two entirely different groups of people set aside their differences, sat down, and gave thanks for all that they had…how far we’ve come from there….how we can spend one day pretending to be thankful and the very next, fight each other like animals to get a sale.

We’re so lost, here in America, and shamefully enough, I’ve found myself being caught up in it.  How?  Stores are opening at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day this year!  It’s crazy.  Not only will half the people shopping probably be half drunk from eating and drinking all day, but they are fleeing their family in an effort to save a few dollars.  And the thought crossed my  mind…

“I could go around 10 and shop for a few hours and get in on some of these bargains, not deal with the Friday chaos, and get most of my shopping finished.”

If you are a black Friday shopper, there is no judgement coming from me.  Most people do it as a tradition and I understand what it’s like to be on a tight budget and the satisfaction in saving money, not to mention the hostility you feel when you realize what stores really can sell items for, but just choose not to.

But here’s the thing…no matter how much we have to be thankful for, the world is always presenting us with distractions.

Tomorrow is a day, just a single day, to stop, look around, and acknowledge all that blesses our lives.  I guess what makes me sad is that we have this single day to gather and outwardly show our thanks and appreciation for our families, and in the back of our minds, corporate America is trying to take that away from us.  Instead of feeling content with all we have, we are being bombarded with what we don’t and how we can get it cheaper, sooner.  Four hours sooner than last year,  9 hours earlier than ten years ago, and five years from now, black Friday probably will have evolved into noon on Thanksgiving.  Our discontent and for lack of better words, greed, is robbing us of one of the few traditions that America needs.  Thanksgiving is one of the days we all need, and not just the day in and of itself, but the act.  These companies have this down to a science…if they can keep you discontent, you won’t feel thankful and you will need to shop to create happiness.

I am blessed.  I am blessed beyond words can say.  I truly am in need of nothing, and neither are my children.  Although I love to give, I have to remind myself that none of us really need anything.  Giving gifts is something that for me, brings happiness and joy.  I love the smiles and excitement.  However, the past few days, as I’ve debated shopping after the kids go to bed and skipping the babysitter, while still enjoying my family Friday, I’ve realized that it’s all just a commercial lie.  Maybe these are just my personal convictions, and that is fine, but my own personal conclusion is this:

Although I love saving money while finding things for loved ones that I know will bring them happiness, it will not bring them joy.  Happiness is circumstantial.  It is a feeling you experience based on everything around you at a given moment.  Joy, is a choice and it happens when happiness resides inside of you.  It’s a result when you carry hope and love in your heart. Happiness and joy, although often confused, are not the same.  Anybody can feel happy, but only a joyful person is a person that is truly happy.  A joyful person views problems as opportunity, considers the glass half full and is thankful for the half that he has, and never fears of it running out.  Joy is what empowers a person to be kind, loving, gentle, peaceful, and denies our own selfish tendencies.

I am, at best, a half-joyful person.  I am aware that joy is a choice and lifestyle, not an emotion.  I am at constant conflict with what I want to do and what I actually do, how I want to react and how I do react.  But at least I’m halfway there.  Without joy, it’s hard to experience the true essence of being thankful.  I don’t want to be robbed of all I have to be thankful for by the lure of things I do not need, at a lesser price.

Life is too short to feel discontent over things that just don’t matter.  Remember what Thanksgiving is all about, and don’t let all the commercial racket rob you of the one day to really stop, look around you, and see all that you truly have to be thankful for you.  Don’t let the temptation of savings remind you of all that you don’t have, and rob you of  joy.  These sales only create temporary happiness, and ironically enough, total chaos in the midst of achieving it.

Choose joy…even if your joy is a journey as is mine.  Have a “Happy” Thanksgiving, and if you are truly happy, a “Joyous” one.


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