November is always the time for Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, getting hung over on football games galore, entertaining family and friends from near and far, eating too much on Thanksgiving Day, and then racing through the stores on Black Friday for that gift we must have for someone on our holiday list.

Yes, Thanksgiving and Black Friday are back to back, much to the chagrin of some and the delight of many others.

A little history is in order for both concepts. Our tradition of Thanksgiving dates back to the "first Thanksgiving" in 1621 when the Pilgrims of Plymouth thanked God for guiding them safely to the New World and through grueling ordeals. Of course, the English tradition of "thanksgivings," or days of thanking God for special blessings, was part of the heritage brought to the New World. There were actually earlier thanksgivings held in Virginia and elsewhere with the Spaniards, all of them holy days for thanksgiving to God.

It was Abraham Lincoln who, in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens" to be celebrated on Thursday, Nov. 26, that year. Nearly 75 years prior to Lincoln's proclamation, George Washington had recommended, in 1789, "a public day of thanksgiving and prayer" for Nov. 26. He was most concerned that the people of this new nation acknowledge God's providence in establishing it.

Historically, Thanksgiving had roots in a religious culture. Today, Thanksgiving is primarily a secular holiday followed immediately by Black Friday, that might be called the retailers' Thanksgiving day. Several websites tell us that Black Friday was first used pejoratively in Philadelphia in 1961 because of the overwhelming number of people and cars that the police had to control. The term spread to other cities by 1975 to denote the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

You can imagine that merchants did not appreciate the negative connotation of Black Friday. By the 1980s, the term began to refer to the time when retailers could count on turning the "red ink" on their ledgers to "black ink" at the start of the holiday shopping season. For some employees who must accommodate the few "crazy" shoppers on Black Friday, the day may still have a negative impact. Oh, and by the way, now we know that the best bargains are not always found on Black Friday.

May I be so bold as to suggest, starting with those of us who are senior role models, that we change our perspective this year on these two days. Never fear, I would not do away with Black Friday and Saturday and Sunday and Monday, and so on, because the economy needs those days. Rather, I am suggesting that we use Thanksgiving Day to give thanks for what we have and the blessings we hold dear.

As a result of our thanks and before going to the stores to shop, let us give money and goods to charities that reach out to help people who have little or no money to spend on Black Friday. And if we cannot give money or goods, perhaps we can give our time and talents to help the charities and individuals who need us. Let us bring back the true meaning of the word Thanksgiving so that Black Friday and the beginning of the holiday season can give others a reason to be thankful.