When I was about 10, I decided that Thanksgiving was the ideal time for sleeping under the Virginia stars one last time before winter. Every year, I’d beg my cousins to sleep outdoors with me on Thanksgiving night.
That was before we knew anything about mummy bags, base-layers or down. We were low-tech but determined! We would put on so many cotton sweatshirts that we looked like pumpkins. Weaseling into our giant sleeping bags, we’d roll ourselves burrito-style into old blankets for extra insulation. Then we’d cover up with plastic picnic tablecloths to repel the dew.
The night was always eventful. Sometimes we’d wake up to drippy rain, sometimes to a light dusting of snow, and once we were even awarded a rare but stunning hoar-frost for our diligent bundling efforts.
Our toes were always cold and we always had to pee two hours before dawn. But it was always worth it.
This holiday season, I’ve been encouraged by REI’s bold initiative to take back Black Friday with their campaign “Get Outside Yourself.” (If you haven’t heard, they’re closing their doors on Black Friday and paying their employees to go enjoy the outdoors with their families. Follow the hashtag #OptOutside; it’s great. You can even join the campaign on the website and make your own image!)
I love that REI has taken this stance. It has created quite the buzz, and people everywhere are shocked that a retail store would actually suggest we not go shopping.
That we consider simply spending Thanksgiving weekend appreciating nature and family a bold action reveals something important about what we’ve become as a culture.
We move fast. We value stuff. We think we love love giving but we really love getting: getting the best deal, getting it first, and getting ourselves ready. But ready for what?
It is so hard to slow down, to stop in our tracks and recognize the value in where we are this moment and what we already have.
Gratitude takes practice. Who wants to practice with me by spending day outside this Black Friday?
A walk around the neighborhood can be a great family-friendly activity after Turkey Time.
The golden hours of dawn and dusk are my favorite to be outside. What's yours?
“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Happy Thanksgiving! May it be filled with beauty and gratitude for all that truly matters.