Irony — a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects.

Thanksgiving is just a few short hours behind us. Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite holiday. I like the simplicity that surrounds our traditions. We gather around a meal and publically declare our gratitude for our blessings.

My family’s traditions have changed as the years have marched past. I used to attempt to recreate the Thanksgiving of my childhood. Of course, it was nearly impossible since I had a beautiful Granny and her daughters who cooked enough food to feed a small nation. My Slifer family is a pretty large clan– so the amount was just right. When Kelly joined the Air Force and our children came along, I felt they needed that experience even if we couldn’t be physically present with the clan.

Our journey took us to Turkey. There I saw real poverty up close for the first time. Cemile taught me the true meaning of a feast. To her mind, Americans feasted every single meal and every single day. She was shocked at how food we wasted. Shocked that we would only use the best bits — and toss the rest. She regularly took home the odd scrap from my kitchen and would turn it into a dish.

It shamed me. But it didn’t immediately change my ways when it came to the holiday.

Fast forward a decade, and I finally felt at peace with my Thanksgiving. It is more about a simple meal, prepared as much in advance as possible, joyfully shared, and eaten with true gratitude.

I see other families with their huge elaborate meals and wonder, “Are they grateful or tired? Joyful or stressed out?” I don’t know. I don’t probe and pry. However, I suspect the answer can be found the next morning. The irony is that Thanksgiving is now just a prepatory pause before Black Friday and the Holiday Shopping Frenzy.

I, therefore, continue in my boycot of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. I have quietly opted out of feeling entitled to a good deal. Instead I will carry the gratitude of Thanksgiving into the expectation of Advent and further into the joy of Christmastide.

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