You may be surprised to discover that today - Tuesday November 27th - has now become part of the Thanksgiving Week festival of named days, days with a particular purpose and an appointed mission for us to accomplish.
We'll see if this one "has legs", as they say, but for now, say hello to the well-meaning new kid on the block, called Giving Tuesday.
The idea here is that as the warm and fuzzy feelings at the heart of Thanksgiving give way to the hot and frenzied consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, perhaps a quick return to the more humanistic side of ourselves is in order - the side that's capable of stopping the shopping long enough to reach out and help some of the millions of people in deep need and dire straits, who rely on our compassion and kindness to get by at this time of year, more than ever.
This is an effort started by New York City's legendary "92nd Street Y" . Unaffiliated with the YMCA, the 92nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association was founded in 1874 and has been doing a mix of educational, cultural, charity, and community service work ever since, currently serving over 400,000 people a year with over 200 different programs.
The message of Giving Tuesday is very simple, as explained on the project website:
“We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Wouldn’t it be great to have a day for giving back?”
The project has gained a great head of steam very quickly, with over 2,000 different organizations and initiatives already on board as partners. If you go to the website, you'll find full descriptions and easy donation links for a multitude of different charitable efforts all across America - each of them worthy, needy recipients of whatever you can afford to donate.
Of course, many of us already do give back in different ways, at different times. But still, nothing wrong with putting a great big reminder label on one of the few days after Thanksgiving that doesn't already have one.
Which brings us to a bit of a spat that has now developed between the days of the week that follow Thanksgiving Thursday, the really Big Day that got it all started with its loving gatherings of family, friends, full of thankfulness, gratitude, feasts...and yeah, some football.
Then, over the last decade or so, the biggest retail businesses of the land had a hand or two in designating the next day as Black Friday, a day of holiday sales shopping, spending, wrapping, hiding...and yeah, some pushing and shoving.
In just a few short years, American Express has turned the day after that into a somewhat kinder, gentler and definitely more community-oriented consumer day, focused on shopping small and local - Small Business Saturday.
Sunday...well, Sunday has been spoken for, and for a very long time.
But once we wake up from that day of rest, and more football, and maybe even from the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers, we're faced with going back to work while deeply distracted by the next holiday sales shopping bonanza that is Cyber Monday; indelibly stamped on our consciousness by the nation's leading Internet retailers, on what otherwise would have simply been...Thanksgiving weekend wake-up day.
And now, the next day is taken too, by the new Giving Tuesday. Even with all the good intentions and good causes lined up eight miles high behind it, this amounted to the last straw, for the ...well for the last day of the week without special status - which had its publicist issue this strange statement, just minutes after midnight tonight...
"It is with all sincerity, but also with grave concern and consternation that I, Wednesday - HUMP DAY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD - offer my congratulations and well wishes to "Giving Tuesday"; Tuesday, a day nobody liked very much, mind you, now proudly joins the parade of Thanksgiving-related "special days". And so, my fellow...days...and Americans...I ask you: WHAT AM I, CHOPPED LIVER?!? What do I have to do, grease the right palms? I pray that we will all put our heads together and come up with something special for folks to do on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, starting NEXT YEAR, thank you. That's all. Happy Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Over and out."
Okay everybody, get to work on a mission for that Wednesday after Thanksgiving, 2013!