The Suitcase Lady


November 24, 2014, 9:22 pm

I’ve run into hundreds of turkeys this past week. Fortunately for the turkeys and me, these birds are made out of construction paper, glue, paint, and in wealthier schools, dyed chicken feathers. Parading up and down school halls, the Toms remind the kids of our unique American Thanksgiving holiday.

Writings on thankfulness often accompany these artistic creations. Prompted by their teachers, the kids usually start with parents and siblings at the top of their lists, although some family members get usurped by dogs and cats. A new twist this year was turkeys with red, white and blue tail feathers with writing about America.

A radical idea popped into my head the other day. What if the upper grades were all asked to write a second essay on greediness? Being greedy is the opposite of being thankful, and a spirited discussion on greed and its consequences could begin the assignment. This exercise would certainly fulfill the current educational mania to get kids to “think critically”.

Unfortunately, my idea is not politically correct in our consumer society. Every cultural guidepost tells young people (and us) to consume as much as we can as quickly as possible. Black Friday shopping has morphed into Black Thursday and eclipsed the day set aside for thanks. Many sleepy children will be in those frenzied crowds on Thursday  night and the wee small hours of Friday morning. Other children will be home in their beds, but their parents will be jostling each other to buy piles of the newest Chinese made toys whose longevity and play value are nil.

I always get a small ray of  hope when I see a car with a bumper sticker proclaiming “Hate is not a family value”. Perhaps we need a companion sticker declaring, “Greed isn’t either.” And a cautionary note to those shoppers who applaud stores who purport to think of their employees and close on Thanksgiving. Coming in to work at 11 or midnight on Thanksgiving night and then working until dawn or later often counts as “closed on Thanksgiving”. Any woman who cooks a feast, cleans up the mess and works through the night at a big box store may not consider this as a day off.


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