Remember when Thanksgiving Day was just about family and not about merchandise? I do. It really wasn’t that long ago. The whole country stopped for one day and we all sat around a table, stuffed our faces with turkey and sweet potato casserole, laughed and talked, fell asleep on the living room couches and woke up later to watch a football game. God bless America. Right?
But, somewhere over the last few years, we’ve managed to kill Thanksgiving. Well, it’s really worse than that. We’ve murdered it. We've slaughtered it and served it up on a silver platter at the altar of commercialism and consumerism. We’ve taken one of the most sacred and meaningful of American traditions and executed it in the name of greed and profit.
How cheery and festive!
I’ve been hearing a lot of mixed reactions this year about businesses that will be open on Thanksgiving Day — especially the ones who are opening even earlier than they did last year. Honestly, this is nothing new. After 12 years in the clothing retail biz, I can tell you that everyone has an opinion about this and it’s not just the employees. (Hint: the employees hate it.) Customers have a lot to say about it too. Some approve, some disapprove. It’s also nothing new for companies to kick off their Black Friday sales around 6PM on Thanksgiving Day. I mean, it makes sense, right? Open your doors around the time that everyone has recuperated from eating four times as much as they should have. Give them an opportunity to work off those three helpings of grandma’s mashed potatoes.
While nothing compares to K-Mart’s 42-hour stretch, most businesses will be opening up between 4pm and 6pm on Thanksgiving Day and will remain open until around 11pm or midnight on Friday. I guess I have a problem with this for a few reasons. And it seems every year I vent and rant about this issue. I realize it’s probably a pointless battle. After all, this is America — where corporations and CEOs worship the Almighty Dollar with no regard for traditional family values or, for that matter, American values. This is America — where we are so consumed with a desire for cheap products and sale prices that we camp out at a Best Buy three weeks before Black Friday. (These people really need a life. And probably a shower.) This is America — where people trample one another to save five dollars on fleece jackets and Santa socks. I truly believe that this generation of America is the most self-absorbed, egomaniacal, narcissistically greedy and boorish generation ever to walk the Earth.
But, as ineffective as it may be, I feel compelled to do what I can. If you’re considering hitting up your local shopping mall today, I’d ask that, first, you don’t go. Just stay home. Secondly, I’d ask that you take a minute to ponder a couple of things. And maybe, just maybe, we can do something about the stupidity of this godless marriage between Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Consider all of the employees who are missing out on time with their families so that someone can ring up your $2,000 purchase or help you find that elusive pair of Levi’s bootcut jeans. Yes, these poor souls probably knew when they signed up for a job in retail that they would likely be working some holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. But, is it really necessary? Does it really profit these million and billion dollar corporations to be open a grand total of seven hours before Black Friday — so much so that they have to require their overworked and underpaid employees to abandon their families on a day that should be all about family anyway?
I’m all for capitalism and businesses making profit. That’s one of the best things about this country and Lord knows our economy needs it. But, I worry about where our society is heading when we start to place monetary corporate profit and the acquisition of things above family and tradition. There’s a difference between capitalism and consumerism. The latter is the evil, particularly when it gets out of control. If you’ve ever been shopping on Black Friday, or worked retail on Black Friday, then you know what I mean by “out of control.” There’s just something wrong with grown, adult human beings stampeding into stores like mindless automatons desperate to save 30 percent on a pair of Air Jordans. Consumerism is what’s poised to swallow up holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. If we stay on this path, where businesses continue to open a little earlier and a little earlier each year, we’ll soon destroy what little is left of these timeless traditions and values.
Consider the irony, Oh, the irony. It’s richer than the pecan pie you’ll be eating in a few hours. Only in America will people wait in a line for five hours and trample over one another in pursuit of merchandise one day after being thankful for what they already have. If it weren’t so utterly hypocritical, it would be hilarious. Ok, so maybe it is hilarious.
I’m not here to vilify anyone who shops on Black Friday. I might think you’re a little insane for doing it, but that’s just a personal opinion and I’d be happy to recommend the name of a licensed therapist. But, I am here to say, unapologetically, that no business or corporation should be open before midnight on Black Friday. It’s just plain wrong. In fairness, there are plenty of corporations that have chosen to respect and honor the Thanksgiving traditions by keeping their doors closed until midnight — Barnes & Noble, Sam’s Club, T.J. Maxx, Dillard’s, DSW, Bed Bath & Beyond, Burlington Coat Factory, Hobby Lobby, GameStop and many more. At least these guys got it right.
But, it’s time for all of America to get it right. Don’t shop on Thanksgiving Day. Spend time with your family and friends. I promise, all of the stores and the products will still be there at midnight.
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