Reflections on Thanksgetting (Ew) And How Constant Pursuit Makes Money Stressful


I thought that once the holiday passed, Verizon’s Thanksgetting advertising campaign would stop irritating me. But I can’t let it go.

I gave it almost a good week, and it didn’t happen. Even though I’m not seeing the actual ads anymore, it’s still nagging at me.

This won’t be a rant about our consumerist culture. That feels too big to rant about. Yes, Christmas is coming, and that particular holiday has, ahem, moved a bit from its original meaning. So there will be plenty of talk about that in the coming month.

But I’ve been thinking about how this idea of “Thanksgetting” could affect people on an individual level, on a personal level. It had me thinking about how the thoughtful pursuit of the things you want in life can turn into the mindless pursuit of simply getting.

I have to go out and get something. And then get, get, get. And then get more. It’s that little, subconscious feeling that if you’re not getting, you’re losing—losing stuff, losing your chance, losing your place.

This is exactly why money is inherently stressful for many people. On one level, money is a way to get some of what you need in life—from your clothing, food, and shelter, to other things like new pairs of running shoes every six weeks (if by “on a personal level” I mean to talk about myself, anyway).

But Thanksgetting demonstrates how easily ‘getting what you want’ can evolve into simply getting. And when that pursuit becomes constant, it becomes stressful. When you can’t sit with your wanting, or even sit and enjoy your having, because you are so consumed by more getting, you’ll never be satisfied. You certainly can’t let your money just sit, because then it wouldn’t be getting you anything. This mindset changes money from a tool you use to reach goals and reduce your instability to the very source of your stress.

Getting Verizon to set aside their silly campaign won’t cure this. Someone else will say something, and just like that, the allure of getting will be center stage once again. So what’s the antidote?

Some might suggest the answer is to give something away. Or give everything away, in an attempt to rid yourself of all material niceties. But along the road from getting to giving, somewhere in between, is simply not getting, or even just, not getting yet.

What if, instead of jumping online to look for a deal moments after noticing that wanting feeling, you just wrote it down instead. And then waited. A few hours or a day later, you still don’t have it. Are you worse off? Wait another day or a week. Are you worse off? Is there any possibility you be better off?

What if we asked ourselves these sorts of simple questions every time we made a purchase? Okay, maybe not for every single fill-up on gas for the car or or a birthday lunch with Mom. But for the ones where the getting impulse might be at play.

In the end, you might find that, yeah, you’re still going to get it. So go ahead and make a plan. Live it up.

But the process—the questions—are still useful. By slowing down, you’ve moved away from constant pursuit to a thoughtful decision about this particular must-have. Or you might find that the initial impulse wasn’t about that particular thing at all. Instead, it was just about getting. And letting go of that means letting go of some of your stress about money, even if it is a little bit at a time.