Kent Bernhardt: What’s your hurry?

  • Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Several years ago, I said it was coming; the day when Thanksgiving would just simply disappear.

It appears the day is upon us.

Kmart has finally removed the pretense, and will open their stores at…well, they can buy ads to tell you when they’ll open. I’m not going to give them free publicity. But trust me, they’re just plowing under Thanksgiving altogether, and heading us straight toward Christmas.

Soon, the rest will follow. Bet on it.

We’ve finally taken the day of being thankful for what we have, and instead made it all about what we want.

I know, I’m old. I actually remember leisurely Thanksgivings of the past that began on Wednesday night with a special community church service of thanks. The three churches in my town would unite in prayer and praise, and townsfolk would swarm in like bees.

They still do it, but it’s a harder sell these days. We’ve got to rest up for the big Christmas deals coming our way – now on Thanksgiving morning.

Kimberly Via lives in Boone, and she told the Associated Press that last year, her mother, sister, and nieces left in the middle of their meals to head for the mall. They just piled their dishes on the counter, said a quick thank you, and bolted out the door.

She says she’ll never host Thanksgiving dinner for her relatives again. I don’t blame her.

But Kent, even shopping is a great tradition for a lot of people. And it’s good for the economy!

I hear that all the time; good for the economy. Yes, America will totally collapse if we don’t wait until Friday to whip out our credit cards. Hey, even the Native Americans at the original Thanksgiving feast left early to beat the traffic and hit the sales at Sears.

I suppose the worst part is, we’ve forgotten how to savor anything.

Thanksgiving dinner used to be followed by an almost obligatory nap, with belts unbuckled in gluttonous delight. Maybe even a little touch football in the back yard if the weather was nice. Then, still lamenting the overeating at lunch, we’d be back around the table at supper, filling our plates with leftovers.

Each year, taking time to absorb the sights and smells from the kitchen and the simple joys of family, we’d bask in the fullness of the Thanksgiving experience. Now, it’s off to the stores before the turkey has a chance to get cold.

Remember Malcom Tucker? He was that Charlotte businessman whose good fortune took him through Mayberry one Sunday.

You remember the episode. His car broke down right around church time, and he had a difficult time getting it fixed. In fact, he had a difficult time getting anyone in Mayberry to understand his need for speed.

Wally at the service station wouldn’t even look at it until Monday, preferring to chat about the Sunday comics. Gomer’s cousin Goober could fix it, but he was out on the lake in a boat. And there were those sisters who kept the phone lines tied up for three hours every Sunday afternoon.

Malcom Tucker was fit to be tied. He was a busy man, and needed to get on to the next important thing. But we all remember how it ended.

Mr. Tucker slowly began to “get it.” He realized that Mayberry was a special place, and life was slower and to be savored.

I love the final scene of Mr. Tucker with that apple peel in his hand, sound asleep in a rocking chair on Andy’s porch. It was the first real peace he’d known in years.

Is there a message in there for us this Thanksgiving? Could it be that even though the world is calling with bargains galore, maybe - just maybe - we don’t have to answer?

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.

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