The amiable greeting of “Happy Thanksgiving,” was echoed throughout the workplace last Thursday. Bahamians extended this greeting to each other repeatedly, and each time I heard it I wondered if I was still standing on Bahamian soil.
When the seasonal greeting was extended to me, I accepted the sentiment in the context in which it was given, but found myself proclaiming that I was not an American and didn’t understand the relevance of the celebratory salutation.
In her online column “Robbin’s Nest,” Robbin Whachell reminded readers of the need to be thankful and the necessity of taking time to recognize and verbalize those things for which we are thankful. This is a wonderful exercise and can be done anytime of the year.
Unfortunately, what was once a beautiful tradition in the United States of America, is now a powerful marketing tool that has made its way to our shallow azure tinted shores. Like Christmas, Thanksgiving Day is now the day before the largest shopping day in the United States. And, like Christmas, it is a day we use to justify our gluttony for food and money, hence the fabulous “turkey meals” sold at various restaurants on that day, and the obscene amounts of money spent at the various shopping malls in America, particularly in South Florida.
Many Bahamians meticulously plan their vacations and days off around this time of the year in order to take advantage of the incredible sales that occur on “Black Friday.” Retailers are said to have coined this phrase because it is the one day in the year when they are confident that at the end of the day their ledgers will show a profit, that is, be in the “black.”
So, to add money to the lining in the retailers’ financial jackets, Bahamian and American shoppers spend, spend, spend. Some stores opened as early as 4:00 o’clock in the morning last Friday to begin a day of tsunami sized sales and discounts. And, store owners were probably not disappointed based on the amount of shoppers who pushed their way in and out of stores for over 20 hours.
Meanwhile, in Grand Bahama, store owners are riding this wave of crazed shoppers and are offering bargains of their own. This is the best time of the year to capitalize on the shopping frenzy, hence the plethora of sale signs throughout the island. However, I can’t help wondering how many of these persons caught up in this shopping whirlwind have met their financial obligations for the month.
Every time I go to pay a utility bill I hear customers waiting in the line complaining about the cost of living. So if one is having difficulty paying for those things necessary for “living” how will he/she find the means to pay for those items sitting on the shelves around town?
The sad reality is that there is no extra money. The money that was supposed to pay for the rent, power, health insurance and/or water has now been allocated for Christmas ornaments, toys, and perhaps new bathroom mats.
We run the risk of having our “lives” shut off just so we can “catch” the sales of the season. Very often it is not only the power, phone or cable that is disconnected; rather we become disconnected from our very selves.
Allowing ourselves to become so engrossed in the superficial materialism of this world ultimately brings about a disconnect between our spiritual and physical being. This means that even if we wanted to celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving we couldn’t since the true meaning of these events have been distorted.
This week I challenge you to evaluate how you spend your money. It is a beautiful thing to celebrate life and to be thankful for your blessings. But it is really stupid and irresponsible to be lured in by the bright red sale signs knowing you have not met your obligations.
Remember, being thankful does not cost any money and the cost of sharing Christmas cheer and joy has already been paid by Jesus Christ. Release yourself from the shackles of wanton materialism and reconnect to your spirit. So this week, don’t put your soul on sale for a few new lights.
About the author: Joye Ritchie-Greene is an Educational Consultant, Writer and Martial Arts Instructor. She is the owner/operator of The Bahamas Martial Arts Academy; president of Time-Out Productions; and is also a columnist for the Freeport News. She has a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Human Resources, resides in Freeport, Grand Bahama with her husband and enjoys playing tennis. Joye can be reached at