The Thanksgiving Challenge

As a child, I didn't understand the importance of Thanksgiving. All I cared about was Christmas! I wanted those presents (just like any kid). So as a kid, Thanksgiving was kind of a boring holiday, because all we did was get together eat food and hang out with family. I didn't understand the simple importance of spending time with family. I didn't understand the little things in life that make this world great.

Instead of understanding that family time is important, I was running around at 100 miles an hour being a kid. Still today, Christmas is my favorite holiday, because it just seems like the happiest season of the year. People are so merry and kind (at least where I come from). I just find it hard to be upset during the Christmas season. Plus, there is the added bonus of Christmas lights, Christmas music and more family time.

Interestingly, one of my least favorite holidays (Thanksgiving) as a kid is becoming one of my favorite holidays as an adult. It all started when I was in college. I was in Lincoln and about two hours from my family. That Thanksgiving, we had our Thanksgiving meal at my Aunt's farmhouse and then we went outside and shot blue rock (or skeet). I am not a big hunter, but I do enjoy shooting a gun just for fun. More than the fact that we were shooting, but we were shooting guns with family. I will always hold that memory of the "Bluerock Thanksgiving" near and dear to my heart. 

The next year, my uncle brought a bow and some arrows. We went out as a family and once again had a memorable "Archery Thanksgiving." Fast forward to the next Thanksgiving, where it was too cold to go outside for extended periods of time (this can happen in Nebraska). We played pool and played cards. I will always remember this Thanksgiving, because I blew up when my team lost the game (I can be kind of competitive). Fast forward to my first Thanksgiving with my fiancé, we were with her family and spent Thanksgiving in Temple, Texas. After eating the Thanksgiving meal, eight of us went outside and played a game of touch football. I was in boots, not expecting an impromptu game of football. Now, every year that we have Thanksgiving with my wife's family, we go out and play a game of football (I bring a change of clothes from now on). We have even upgraded to flag football.

Why do I tell you these stories? Why do I run down Turkey Day Memory Lane? I do this because I want to ask one question: 

Would I have these memories, if I ran off to Black Friday?

It's plain and simple, I wouldn't. I would have stuff, but I wouldn't have those amazing memories with my family. I would have gifts, but in my opinion time with family is more important than buying a gift for your family members. The gifts and stuff can be replaced, but those memories will always be there. Do I remember the food that we ate, the football games that we watched or the gifts that I have gotten? Not really, all of my memories are from the experiences that make this life so wonderful to live.

Those experiences are why I can't believe that JC Penny, Wal-mart, Target and other retail stores are opening their "Black Friday" doors on Thursday. That's right, they have been continuously moving the start of "Black Friday" up and this year one store has even pushed the opening up to 3 PM on Thanksgiving Day, while others are opening at 6 PM.

I would be interested to see how many people run out to JCPenney at 3 PM on Thursday. I will be interested to see how many people leave their Thanksgiving meals early and race to the stores for 'stuff.' What does this tell our families? What does it teach our children? I personally believe that it teaches our families that the 'stuff' that's on sale is more important than the time spent with them. It teaches our children that buying 'stuff' is so important that we must rush to the stores and beat everybody to the deals.

I will tell you this, the deals are not that great. You have to stand in line, waste hours upon hours shopping and you still come out spending lot's of money. I will continue to stick to my guns and say that sales are not that great of a deal for the consumer. You may save a little on the items, but you can be tricked into buying more than you had planned, because things are on sale.

So, my challenge to you on this Thanksgiving Day of 2016 is not an eating contest and it's not a challenge to be more thankful for what you have. I don't need to tell you something that you should already be doing, instead this Thanksgiving, I challenge you to:


I mean really enjoy them!

Get off your devices, have real conversations and listen to each other. Make up for lost time, play some games and eat more than you probably should. But don't rush out on your families Thanksgiving meals to go "shopping," instead stay a little longer and learn a little more. Make some memories that will last a lifetime. I promise you, that stuff will be waiting for you on Friday or Saturday and even Monday. It's not that important and it can wait!

I wish all of you a happy, healthy, grateful, and family-oriented Thanksgiving Day! 

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