On this day in America, hordes of people descend upon thousands of stores across the country, wrapped up in a buying frenzy.  The good news is:  it appears the economy has recovered significantly.  But I confess I am sad that so many of us focus so much on buying, buying, buying – especially on the day after Thanksgiving when we just supposedly focused on the blessings of all that we have.  Do we really need more things?  Really?  I thought one of the lessons we learned five years ago or so was that we didn’t really need all that we had or all that we wanted.

Some people on the planet are focused on survival.  We seem to be focused on consumption – consumption of goods, consumption of food.  We seem to be a rapacious species nowadays.

I hope I don’t sound too judgmental.   My hope is to raise the issue, inspire some reflection and possibly some thoughtful and meaningful discourse.  Is this desire to buy, acquire, and consume a sign that we are unhappy? Do we need material things because there is a deep spiritual hole we need to fill?  Are we existentially adrift?

One of the things I love about living out West is that there seems to be less of a focus on what one owns.  Generally speaking there does not seem to be this desire to prove one’s worth with the flashing of one’s more expensive possessions.  Perhaps it’s because many people here live in more sparsely populated areas and the focus often shifts more to being outside amidst the wonders of nature.  Shopping happens more sporadically and often focuses more on utilitarian objects rather than luxury items.  I mention this just to show that it is possible to live differently.  There are many, many small towns scattered throughout the country where most of the people are not consumption-oriented.

It’s certainly good to be grateful for what we have in the way of homes, furnishings, cars, clothes, etc.  But what about the things money cannot buy?  Let’s remember a few of those things.

Of course the biggies are health and love.  Money may help one to be a bit more healthy, but being wealthy certainly doesn’t guarantee good health.  And being rich may help attract a mate, but it can’t really buy true love.

What about happiness?  People with lots of money may have more toys (including, of course, big ticket items like cars, boats, etc.) but once again, wealth does not guarantee happiness.  As a matter of fact, I have heard many people report that when they travel to the poorer nations of the world, they see a heck of a lot more smiles there than they ever do here.  We are, by and large, a much unhappier, more stressed nation that many of the considerably more humble countries of the world.  My personal belief is that elsewhere people are more focused on family and community, and life’s simplest pleasures are enjoyed to the fullest.

Let’s all be grateful for life’s simple pleasures.  This is one of the paths to happiness.  Appreciate every small and wondrous thing.

We are so blessed.  With or without a shopping cart full of things, we are blessed.

I celebrate the blessings of Good Health, Good Friends, Beloved Family, Joy, and a million Small and Wondrous Things.

A beautiful Day After Thanksgiving to you!


More from Beliefnet and our partners