Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Earlier on this Thanksgiving day, I decided I needed a coffee and turned into the Starbucks drive-thru. I was filled with some guilt given my opposition to retailers forcing employees to work on our national holiday. But craving a green tea Frappuccino, I used the rationale that this was a foodstuff, and therefore an exception to my internal blue law rules. The girl at the window could not get my order straight (which I will be the first to admit is complicated). When she appeared at the sliding window to deliver the green concoction, I apologized for the complexity of my Frappuccino recipe. She explained that this was her first day and she was still learning the system. "Well, I hope you'll be able to spend some time with your family on this Thanksgiving," I said. "Oh yeah," she replied, pushing her hair away from her face," we close at four and then I'm going to get some turkey." Then, with a fatigued look in her eyes, she leaned over the counter, "I hope I'll be able to rest a bit. I'm the manager at Target and have to open the store at midnight tonight. Be there til' at least eight. But hey, I'll get some holiday pay out it."

While the rest of us are enjoying our second helping of turkey, watching football, cartoons with the kids, or (God forbid) Gaga, there are legions of Americans who will be headed for work tonight. For so many it is a matter of making ends meet--they have no choice. But the stores who decided to turn Black Friday into Black Thanksgiving this year should be ashamed of themselves. They have separated their workers from their families and enticed customers to leave their homes for a few bucks rebate on a handful of items. This is not the way Thanksgiving was supposed to be. The "solemn" day of thanks proclaimed by George Washington has morphed into a secular day of getting.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my family, dear friends, my faith, the limitless opportunity of this country that we love, and for the many good people who have allowed me into their homes and lives. You are all so cherished. I ask you to remember those hard working people (in the military or at Target etc) separated from families in your prayers this day, and to be mindful of those who are suffering alone. My grandmother, Mary is in the midst of a terrible health crisis in New Orleans. Please remember her and dear Mother Angelica in your family prayers. Happy Thanksgiving.

I leave you with this quote from the inspired poet and peacemaker Mattie Stepanek:‎ "If you have enough breath to complain about anything, you have more than enough reason to give thanks about something."

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