Black Friday Becomes Blessings Friday

It was easy to skip the malls and outlets and boutiques today. After all, I’d avoided post-Thanksgiving shopping for the past two years.

It takes little to change your direction, once you’ve changed your mind.

I spent the first Thanksgiving at a friend’s. Well, Gail is more than a friend. She breathes by doing for others, so when you go to her house for dinner, she serves as much love as food. And she serves a lot of food. There was baked turkey, smoked turkey, spicy meatballs, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, candied yams, chicken wings (real ones, fresh ones, fried by her best friend, Dorian). There were green beans, ham, cornbread dressing, and a bunch of desserts whose names I won’t write out loud.

We stood in a circle and uttered what we were thankful for, and we were all thankful for Gail.

Then I went home, where Desi was waiting for leftovers. But an upset stomach (at Thanksgiving, no less, meant he could only have boiled chicken and rice).

On Friday morning, I walked into my well-stocked kitchen (one of the many blessings I counted). I had taken the day off from a job I love (another blessing!). And I spent the day focused on something much more important than shopping: all the ways I’d been blessed since last Thanksgiving.

It is impossible to count all your blessings in a day. Two days actually isn’t enough, but it’s a start. So yes, today became Blessings Friday. It also became a second Thanksgiving. I put the second turkey into the IMG_5358oven. I bowled the collard greens and cornbread dressing and mashed potatoes and meatballs (Yes, the ones from Gail’s, which were outtasight). And when everything was ready, voilá – Second Thanksgiving – a second day to reflect on the many blessings we get every day, every week without thought, without words, without remembering the next day.

Millions of people spent today looking for bargains, finding deals, traversing from place to place to find happiness in a box or bottle or package. Many other people skipped shopping to keep attention focused on a tragic killing in Ferguson, Missouri that becomes uglier and uglier with each passing day.

It’s so easy to change our behavior, when we slow down to think about it, when we stop to look around, when we mean it. We – all of us – made Black Friday a holiday – except we forgot to make it celebrate something.

Now it can.

In my home, there is no more Black Friday. There is only a second day to count the many blessings my family and I have had through the year and to be thankful in advance for those to come.

If you think you don’t have many, just look around and see what’s there: the beautiful smiles of friends, the funny stories of family, the amazing memories etched into our souls of special moments that we know changed us. How do we change our lives by outrageous spending every year on the day after we give thanks? We put ourselves in debt. We accumulate things rather than wealth. We don’t focus on thanks, but focus on gimme.

Yes, this was a day to count my blessings – and to eat more turkey. And you know what? The second turkey was almost as good as the first! Happy Blessings Friday! Happy Second Thanksgiving!

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.