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This year Kohl’s holiday ad campaign is “Give Joy, Get Joy,” because you get Kohl’s cash for every gift you buy. It’s just one of many advertisements and commercials that promote the buying-crazy culture every Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

It’s not a bad thing to give and receive during this season of festivity and generosity, but if that’s our motivation for giving–to get something in return or to be lifted up as a paragon of magnanimity–then we have gotten something seriously wrong.

What is Thanksgiving all about? In the most basic sense, it’s about giving thanks. I know, that’s a shocker. But really, it’s a time when we can express our thankfulness for the blessings and provisions that we have. Family, food, shelter, religious and personal freedom…it’s an unending list. That’s what this holiday is truly about.

Unfortunately, in our overwhelmingly materialistic society, Thanksgiving is just another opportunity to bring out the big guns of marketing and advertising in an effort to entice us into buying way more than we would ever need or spending more than we would normally consider reasonable to spend. Because, after all, it’s an amazing deal and you might never find a better one, and if you don’t buy this for your kids you’re a bad parent, and when you spend this amount of dollars you get this percentage cash back (minuscule though it may be), and you should be a positive example to your relatives of how to be a generous and selfless giver.

Okay, all those things may actually be true except for the bad parent part. But so what? Do you need all that stuff? I mean, really need it? And should that really be the reason we give gifts to each other? So what if you give the most and spend the most money on each of your family members? Would they know that you loved them even if you couldn’t afford to spend that much on them?

Our society has gotten the concept of giving all turned around. Giving is a sign of our love for each other, but it has to have a true heart motivation behind it. And the genuine heart of love doesn’t give in order to get something back.

But what I also find a little backwards is that Thanksgiving isn’t even meant to be about giving and receiving gifts. Like I said above, it’s about giving thanks for what we have. However, in our modern world, now Thanksgiving is just the day before the biggest sale day of the entire year–oh, and while you’re at it, it’s also an excuse to have a fantastic dinner and inordinate amounts of pie. But the best part of the day is the Black Friday deals that actually start on Thursday evening. So they’re really Black Thursday-night-and-Friday deals. Whatever.

It’s honestly exhausting to try to keep up with it all. And it’s sort of messed up that the first “official” day of the Christmas season, which is supposed to be a time of love, generosity, and peace infused with that Christmas spirit, is actually when the stores and shops become some kind of horrible reality TV show, full of greedy, selfish people and overall a pretty ugly spirit.

Don’t think I’m totally against Black Friday shopping. I’m planning to do some of my own (most likely from my laptop in the comfort of my home), but I want to have the right attitude about it, and I really want to try to enjoy this holiday for what it is before getting caught up in all that.

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Spend time with my family and the people who matter to me. Relax and be grateful for the blessings I have. And remember Who it is that has given me all these wonderful people and things. After all, nothing on this earth truly belongs to me; it’s a gift from a loving Father. He’s so good to us, and we really don’t deserve everything He’s given us.

All we can do is have a thankful heart and let that spirit of thankfulness spread to everyone around us.