Friday, November 29, 2013

The Day After Giving Thanks

Doesn't it seem a waste to be sick on a holiday? I mean, beside missing the chance to call out sick to work, I also had to call out of two thanksgiving dinner invitations.

On the bright side, other than a low-grad fever on Wednesday evening and coughing fits the last 3 days, I haven't really felt that bad, I just am not good company. No ones the green bean casserole passed to them by a phlegmy, hacking anyone.

So the cat and I had a quiet Thanksgiving Day together here in my cluttered apartment. Honestly? I think the cat likes me best when I'm sick and lying around a lot. He would also rather I not be coughing all the time and I understand. I wouldn't want to sleep on a convulsing bed, either.

Last night, I slept over 12 hours. I'm thankful for the opportunity to do that and I guess I needed it. Today, I didn't do much but I did get out for a walk. It was a beautiful day here in Houston, on the upswing from a few cold, rainy days. I'm thankful that was the most pressing thing on my agenda today, a walk.

Despite my better judgment, I decided to walk into the epicenter of Houston's Black Friday. I live a 30 minute walk from the Galleria and I was surprised to find it not nearly as crowded as I expected it to be. I suppose most of the nonsense happened earlier in the day and maybe the epicenter these days is really a Walmart or something. I honestly don't know. I'm thankful I have a life that doesn't require me to keep up on Black Friday deals. I don't know if anyone has a life that requires that, but apparently, some people find the crush of mad crowds somewhat . . . fulfilling? Exciting? What do people get out of it? Being an introvert, I can only assume most of these people are extreme extroverts, but maybe I'm being uncharitable to extroverts.

More and more, I find myself slipping out of mainline culture, if that's what it is. I find myself more and more looking around me and seeing extravagant luxury, wonders that just 3 or 4 generations ago would have been unthinkable, treated as necessities.

Or if they're recognized as not necessary things, we're told we're somehow deserving of it. And so I guess we advance bravely into the maelstrom of commerce, fighting for our right to . .  have.

I have a lot. I mentioned my apartment is cluttered. And really, I'm thankful for the opportunity to have a cluttered apartment. I also know . . .

I don't know what I know. I feel the world, or maybe just this country, or maybe just some aspects of this country's priorities are gravely out of balance. I don't know how to right it. It may not be my job. Maybe my job is, in part, to sit here quietly blogging about how unhealthy it all looks to someone on the outside of it.

Here's what it looks like: It looks like peer pressure of the worst kind. To be "normal" and "acceptable," one should have X, Y, and Z and the latest upgrade to them all. I was born late into my parents' generation, so I'm maybe among the youngest people on the planet who had Depression era parents, but I definitely grew up with an attitude of using things until they were worn out and not working. I gather not everyone with a flat screen TV got it because the old TV quit working. I'm guessing, but that's my general understanding of how this economy works.

And that's what's on my mind this Black Friday. I worry how our economy depends on people purchasing very few things they need and a whole lot on things that are, simply, new. And advances in technology come so quickly these days that my 5 year old cell phone---a marvel to people only 10 years ago---is obsolete. It was a discontinued model when I bought in in 2009. And it does what I need it to do, but it doesn't give me directions to the movie theater or restaurant. If I ever upgrade on it, the next iteration is going to be so advanced I'll need a class to use it.

Maybe. I probably exaggerate. But . . .

Yesterday, we all gave thanks. Today, businesses were counting on madness in their aisles to keep them open another year. Thankfulness and greed? Something is out of whack.

I see a lot of people on Facebook urging one another not to shop on Black Friday. Is that the answer? Maybe the start of one, but only if it's not a delay to eventual consumerist madness.

It's going to take a lot to change this culture. I find it a little scary to consider what could do it.

Need, want, entitlement. My place in it, my desire to get out of the cycle.

Not the usual Thanksgiving weekend thoughts, maybe. Maybe I wish more people had them.

Blame it on being sick . . .


  1. I agree. The other scary part, though, is that our economy now rests on people doing just what they shouldn't. If people quit buying all the crap, the whole house of cards would collapse and western civilization (and more of the rest of the world that many realize) would like like an apocalypse flick.

  2. I know. It's not as if we can just blithely go back to an agrarian based or bartering economy. It just remains troublesome that people's lives depend upon the manufacture and marketing and selling of things that we simply don't need or, in some cases, actually do harm to us. I wish I were smarter. I'd like to do more than just recognize the problem, but I don't have the brain for fixing this one.