First and foremost,
I am thinking about a holiday focused around eating and drinking (is there a
Not to say that other societies don’t have their eating and drinking extravaganzas. For instance, I thought Ramadan was a one-month fast-o-rama -(dana) until one of my Eng 101 students recently explained to me that most Muslims actually gain weight during Ramadan. Why? Because while the daylight hours are a vast and solemn culinary void, once dusk hits it’s chow time.
What’s on the menu?
After savoring a single date, it’s time to tuck into a bowl of thick, sweet or
savory soup (halim in
Starve/gorge/starve/gorge/starve gorge: this goes on for 30 days. How could one not have to loosen one’s belt at least one notch after a month of being deprived all day and then welcomed to a table of delectable goodness?
new-found knowledge that Muslims enjoy supping as grandly as your average Texan
is not leading me to dismiss the spiritually empty way many, many Westerners
“do” holidays. I’m not saying all Westerners, but I’m thinking of the 25
percent who reportedly hit the Black Friday sales between 5 am and noon today.
What do I have against them? Well, individually, probably nothing at all. I mean,
if Bekka needs a Mac for college, then by golly Bekka should drive down to
During Ramadan, practicing Muslims wake up and return to the table just before sunrise to down a hearty bean soup meant, along with the dried fruits and nuts, to sustain them till the rager continues when the sun next slips below the horizon. Meanwhile, on Thanksgiving night, Westerners stumble into bed after the second or third round of dessert and a nightcap. But while both Muslim and Westerner might need to down a couple of Alka-Seltzers during the night, when the sunlight glints off a Muslim’s frying pan it’s time to pray for guidance and ask for forgiveness; it’s time to fast yet another day for the sake of God and for purification.
But what time is it for Westerners? Time to hit Hickory Farms! Okay, you might argue, many Americans are living on tight budgets but still want to exchange Christmas gifts. Why not take advantage of door-busting markdowns? I get it; I get it, yes. And it’s good for the economy. I just can’t help but feel we made a fatal error somewhere along the way. I’m not preaching some sort of back to the good old days—not that at all—but that perhaps the day after Thanksgiving should be more than a day of mall worship. Why not make it a day of service? A day to (on the way to the mall?) drop a bag of canned goods at the local food bank? I know I can do this myself and keep it quiet, but I wouldn’t mind having the President remind its citizens that the Friday after Thanksgiving might be a good day to, along with perhaps procuring Aunt Cindy the newest watchamacallit for her gizmo, take some time for introspection, maybe even for reminding folks that giving thanks shouldn’t be a once-a-year occurrence.