The holidays: are you thankful for family or discounts?


I am always sad to see stories about Black Friday. Most media reports highlight the fights and trampling incidents at malls. This year's video highlight showcased a woman using a stun gun on another woman during a fight. As bothering as the fights have been, I have noticed  a different trend that is also disturbing.

Each year, stores are pushing back their opening hours to take advantage of consumers and our desire for discounts. Now many stores are opening at 8 PM on Thanksgiving night. I've read stories about employees missing out on Thanksgiving dinner so that they can get to work. Families are changing or canceling their dinner plans just so they can get to the mall in time. In short, families are beginning to make shopping the new Thanksgiving tradition instead of family time.

Now I would be lying if I said I have never taken advantage of a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal. I do my best however to remember the essence of the holiday seasons. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving or any other holiday, the general essence of the holiday season is supposed to be spending time with family and looking at ways to give back to your community, however you define it. Christmas for many has turned into a self-centered event where people are more concerned with what they are receiving as opposed to what they are giving. Thanksgiving is turning into a day to give thanks for early shopping opportunities and discounts instead of being thankful for your life and the lives around you.

My hope is that this holiday season, we will take the opportunity to express gratitude for those in our lives past and present. I hope we will look for more opportunities to give instead of receive. I hope that we will be grateful for each day breathing and use the time off from work or school to remember what's important. Discounts are great, but not at the expense of discounting our time with those who matter most.


A poetic tribute to President Nelson Mandela

They say never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes
But what happens when the man has neither shoes nor socks to walk in?
Would you willfully walk that mile?
Would you accept all adversity with a frown and a smile?
Would you still run the race against racism with grace and style?
Would you work wearily to weave a tapestry of diversity and shared fate
Against those who continue to practice apart-hate?
Would your heart shine bright when deprived of sunlight?
Would your spirit sing a song of liberation when it’s denied instrumentation?
As they tried at Robben Island to rob you of your soul
You literally rolled Rholihlahla with each punch as you crunched in your hole
We stand here because of you
We breathe freely because of you
And you walked the long walk to freedom with no shoes and socks
So that we will not have to
You walked for those without homes and even the land-dwellers
You, the son of Mother Earth
Father to a nation
Grandfather to our future
Brother to African liberation
From Cape Town to Kinshasa you led like no other
To remind us to put our arms down and hands forward to embrace one another
Because of you the world is encouraged to up rise like Soweto
So-we-too rise above the mentality of the ghetto
To claim the universe as our humble home
Overseas maligned media would disgrace the Madiba
But we saw through their lies as we looked at tattered posters into your eyes
Your hope in humanity helps us fly Tran-skeis
And when peace did not work on the path for a free way
You chauffeured us on the highway of Umkhonto we sizwe
And when so many believed that there was still no way
Your perseverance and piety led all of us nobly to the Nobel in Norway
And so we will make peace our prize
And we will walk on this path of freedom with our shoes on and heads held high
In a world where courage and pride can be hard to find like a Black Pimpernel
Because YOU have walked this earth Madiba, the future for all humanity bodes well