Thanksgiving: The New Black Friday


Thinkprogress.org

Thinkprogress.org

Thanksgiving, in my mind it has always been one of the truly sacred days when virtually everything is closed and folks visit with family, chill, and eat un-Godly great food that can kill you. Arteries clog, gallbladder give out (mine in 1999); we watch football we I would never watch; we cook all day, and the best part has always been the time spent with friends and family. This year we took a wonderful walk to see the sun setting over Puget Sound; we drank champagne long before five; we shared thanks for having this year together (my uncle beat cancer); we remembered those who are not with us anymore, and we enjoyed a sacred day together.

Thanks to the big name stores, many families did not have the same luxury this year. Big retailers, claiming that customers demanded it, decided to open on Thanksgiving this year, a day ahead of the traditional “Black Friday.” Orange is the new black, 50 is the new 30, and Thanksgiving is now the new Black Friday. Seriously, is this for real? What was once sacred, apparently isn’t anymore… for some people. Namely, the folks who now have to work on Thanksgiving so that “consumers” can buy things a day early. Many of these very same employees can’t afford the very bargains that they’re giving up their holiday for.  They’re there because they need the job, not for a bargain. It sucks! Totally bites the big non-existent wishbone. Who are these consumers, and why are their needs more important than those of the employees who have to work? Is getting an extra day of discount more important than celebrating a holiday that has always been a family day, for so many? The Macy’s flag store in New York City actually opened for the first time on Thanksgiving, this year! Is the almighty buck truly the thing that will ultimately change tradition all together?                    (Food, glorious food!)

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Like so many others, I have been ragging on Black Friday for years. I admit it; I just don’t get it, and never did– even when I desperately needed those Friday bargains. I don’t get people lining up for hours in the cold, shooting each other, or basically losing their minds. It’s not my bag. Even when I needed the deals, I couldn’t bear the pushing and shoving, the urgency and the lines! The lines– they make me crazy. I have never appreciated the frenzy.

However, I saw a Facebook status today, that made some salient points: “Hey, I’m seeing a lot of Black Friday hate on my Facebook. I don’t do Black Friday; frenzied shopping is not on my list of awesome things. But I’d like to gently point out that it’s a result of my privilege that I don’t have to line up at 5am in the freezing cold in order to buy things that I need all year round but can’t afford at any other time. We often caricature this day as a bunch of middle-class people buying crap they don’t need. But actually often Black Friday is the day when people who are poor can afford to get their children Christmas presents, can afford to replace their kitchen appliances, can afford to buy shoes, can afford tires and Christmas tree lights and microwaves. It’s *our* sickness that we set the system up this way 364 days per year and then mock, shame, and belittle people who are forced into a Hunger Games style hysteria to get goods we, in our cosy “anti-materialist” self-righteousness, have access to year round.”

My view on Thanksgiving– not stores!

My view on Thanksgiving– not stores!

These are great points, true points. But I don’t understand the need to up the ante by adding another crazy day to the mix, and in one fell swoop show a complete and utter lack of respect for employees of these stores. Don’t they deserve to hang with family, and have a sacred day off too? Or is one more day of bargains more important than something Americans have held as dear for so long? If retailers want to open on Thanksgiving, consequently making work mandatory for some, shouldn’t they at least offer overtime pay for those workers who want to work, and allow others to take the day off? Are there really enough consumers to warrant this change in tradition? And more importantly, is this how we want to see things change?

In my opinion, it’s bad enough that the Christmas decorations now go up as early as September, and are well established by Halloween. It’s bad enough that by the time December 25th comes, I can barely stand to hear another carol. It sucks that Christmas has become synonymous with consumerism and marketing for so many. It seems entirely unreasonable that one of the last bastions of tradition should bite the dust too. We as consumers have some power. If we don’t shop on Thanksgiving, it does not pay for stores to be open… and employees can spend the day with their families and friends, or at least enjoy the national holiday as they please.

MoveOn.org sent around a petition this year to help tell retailers that this new marketing ploy is unacceptable. I hope you’ll check it out and add your name. Send a message that Thanksgiving is for pausing to give thanks, for connecting and savoring the things that are important. It is not for bargains. Thanksgiving is not for sale.

What do you think of this crazy Christmas in October through December-mockery of Thanksgiving-disregard for family time and all that’s sacred new day of shopping? Are you a fan of Black Friday? Share your thoughts in the comment section. Please check out Tales From the Motherland on Facebook, and hit like. It will give me another reason to be Thankful.

Related writing:

Check out my fellow Bostonian blogging buddy, Bill:  The War on Thanksgiving: http://billmcmorrow.com/2013/11/28/the-war-on-thanksgiving/

MoveOn.org petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/pledge-to-not-shop-on.fb40?source=s.fb&r_by=488384

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/celebrity/news/black-friday-shitshow

http://thoughtcatalog.com/charlie-shaw/2013/11/35-retail-workers-share-their-their-most-wtf-black-friday-horror-stories/

It didn’t pan out for everyone: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/29/us-usa-thanksgiving-retailers-idUSBRE9AR05J20131129

This is sad: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/retailers-open-doors-thanksgiving-article-1.1532085

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Awareness, Blog, Blogging, Christmas, Daily Observations, Education, Honest observations on many things, Life, Musings, My world, Tales From the Motherland and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Thanksgiving: The New Black Friday

  1. jblanche74 says:

    Reblogged this on Simply that.

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  2. Dan Hennessy says:

    I am the first to comment here . I suppose the others are out shopping . After all , it is Black Friday . I agree.

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  3. We don’t have Thanksgiving here but we have the Boxing Day sales right after Christmas – I’ve never been but the waiting crush is shown on tv every year…

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  4. I’m with you– and then that FB post made me think. And today’s paper (not sure which= we get 3), had a story about how the people working these crazy shifts can’t even afford the bargains that the customers are buying. Lots of screwed up stuff here– our obsession with shopping and bargains, and the overall economic inequality. I’m all for a day or two for total shut down, family and friends. Hey, isn’t that what Sundays used to be for? Not that I’d want to return to nothing open on Sunday!

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    • Part of me is still surprised every Sunday, that things are open! I grew up expecting everything to be closed, and have never gotten used to the change. I’m feeling older and older! It seems so wrong that we continue to careen in the direction of things becoming more and more impersonal, and more about spending and consumerism. It’s like a rushing train that can’t be stopped. Thanks for taking the time, Lisa; much appreciated!

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  5. Patti Winker says:

    No matter how often we flip-flop between ‘benefits and disasters’ related to Black Friday, the fact remains; Thanksgiving has been commercialized. I have read much of the debate. Yes, there are employees who welcome the extra income (many employers offering time-and-a-half for the day) and there are shoppers who benefit in big ways from the price cuts.

    Of course, there are people who don’t have a lot to celebrate on Thanksgiving. Maybe they don’t have a warm cozy home, family, and friends to gather together. I know this. But, at the same time, is this any reason to commercialize Thanksgiving? Black Friday (beginning at the stroke of midnight) was just fine, but to encroach into Thursday? Why? Because consumers demanded it? Because there are enough people in America who would rather be shopping on Thursday than on Friday? I know the opportunity for a bigger paycheck for working on Thursday is a draw for many workers. I can’t dispute that. But why not offer time-and-a-half for Friday?

    When I saw all this start a few years ago I thought; “Huh? How can Black FRIDAY start Thursday?” It didn’t make sense. The more I think about it, the less it makes sense. It’s the commercialization of the holidays – all the holidays – that is starting to feel insane.

    Maybe Good Friday should be moved to Saturday so kids are out of school so we can all shop for Easter Sunday. Oh, wait… maybe Easter Sunday should be on Monday so we get another day off. Oh, wait… why does Halloween HAVE to be on “All Hallows’ Eve” October 31? Well, heck… why does New Years’ Eve have to be on December 31?

    Let’s shake these holidays up a bit until we hear the cash register ring a little louder, shall we?

    Thanks for letting me blow off some steam here. Yeah, there’s two sides to this debate, but the one thing that remains is that Thanksgiving should never have been about making or spending money.

    (p.s. I’m going to post the thoughts I shared here over on my blog. Since these are my words, that’s cool. Unlike jblanche74 who copy/pasted your post. What was that about? That doesn’t seem very cool at all.)

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    • Thanks for the heads up on jblanche74, Patti, and for all of your informed and passionate thoughts here. I appreciate you taking the time to read the post, and share your feelings on the topic… and of course, you can always post your thoughts on your blog too! 🙂

      Like

  6. Twindaddy says:

    Sadly, if you see the news you’ll see the consumers who would shop on Thankgiving lined up outside the likes of Wal-Mart, Target, and K-Mart, among others. Until people stop showing up for these sales retailers are going to keep having them. And the times are going to get earlier, too, as each retailer tries to one-up the other. A couple years ago they opened at 10PM. Last year it was 8PM. Yesterday it was 6PM. Pretty soon will be eating Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday night so we can all shop on Thanksgiving day.

    I’ve never been a fan of Black Friday, but I didn’t have a problem with it until it started invading Thanksgiving.

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    • I couldn’t agree more, Twindaddy. I don’t like Black Friday but it’s definitely the move to Thanksgiving that bothers me most– on many levels. I appreciate you stopping by TFTM, and thanks for your thoughts.

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    • jaklumen says:

      What I found interesting was that the U.S. observance used to be on the final Thursday of November since Lincoln’s time, before that, there was no fixed date for it. Its final place on the 4th Thursday was FDR’s doing in 1941, and his rationale was to give the U.S. economy a boost.

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      • Welcome to TFTM, jaklumen! I appreciate you taking the time to read my post and comment. Hope you’ll check out some other posts as well.

        This is really very interesting. I had no idea. It makes sense to help the economy, but it all seems to have gone too far. Way too far! Again, thanks so much for weighing in, and stopping by.

        Like

  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m not a fan of Black Friday, and I don’t go shopping on that day unless dragged out by family against my will. Then again, I don’t like shopping on ANY day. It seems every year there’s another report of someone being killed in a stampede or seriously injured. As for working on the holiday, I’ve spent many holidays on the job, including when I worked at a cinema in high school. Some people like getting the double-time. But it seems like we should be able to have at least a couple days a year where the least number of people have to work as possible.

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    • I totally agree, Carrie! I miss the days of having stores closed on Sundays and certain holidays. I am a fan of shopping when I go with my girlfriends, and we make a day of it… it’s more about the social time together; I can’t bear to be out in the big crowds!

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  8. I think the points made in that Facebook point are accurate from an individual’s standpoint, and I won’t disagree with the fact that some people feel the need to line up to get a good deal. The truth is, retailers are preying upon this portion of people, and the middle class is simply benefiting from it. We’ve commercialized our holidays so much that people feel a compulsion to buy things they can’t afford, and on a holiday no less. THAT is what I really have an issue with.

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  9. jaklumen says:

    Wandered over here from J&T’s.

    I hesitate to sign anything with Moveon.org– sorry. They spammed me for a while after I signed something on Internet Neutrality, and I wasn’t interested in any of their other causes.
    But if there was something organized on WordPress like opposition to SOPA/PIPA was, I’d gladly support that.

    Like

    • No worries! I am careful about what I sign too. I also make sure that when I sign, the box “send me more…” which is usually hidden below the signature, is not checked. I thought this was a reasonable petition, but I totally understand that not everyone will want to put their name down. 😉 I’m grateful to J&T that you found my blog.

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  10. I am of the camp that Black Friday should remain on Friday. I am very fortunate that we can afford the basics, and can afford Christmas presents. Although, I did take advantage of Black Friday shopping this morning, Black Friday, as I was lying in my bed, using my Kindle. So weird to not have to send presents to my folks.

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  11. Mike Lince says:

    Your story saddens me when I think how the U.S. has found a way to turn Jingle Bells into cash registers ringing. I am thankful to currently be living outside the U.S. where the holidays are still about family gatherings and gift-giving is mostly about getting children a new toy and the new clothes they need as they outgrow last year’s garments. People here (Croatia) remember that ‘holiday’ used to be two words – holy day. Each of us can make the choice to keep something sacred around our holiday traditions, even if it is just sitting down to eat together, a tradition which is practiced less and less in our busy lives.
    Blessings of peace and love to you and your loved ones this holiday season, Dawn.

    Like

  12. Robin says:

    I am with you 100%. I can’t stand retail shopping and the thought of going outside and dealing with a bunch of crazy shoppers on black Friday, or even worse Thanksgiving, would be similar for me to having a tooth pulled. I have spent years in marketing for consumer brands, and the thing that’s interesting to me, is these retailers create this sense of urgency now but people really don’t need to purchase early. Have you noticed they all come out with huge sales and discounts a week or two before Xmas, when the stores have realized they are below plan and need to dump inventory. Being a last minute shopper seems to work for me and I think would work for others too if they can tune out all the advertising telling them they need to SHOP NOW OR ELSE! And as for workers having to work on T-G? Not cool at all, unless they want to….

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    • All very good points! I have generally been a last minute person, but with Hanukkah so early this year, there was no waiting. I do love to go shopping for the “angels” that Salvation Army and Goodwill put out every year. I take the kids and we shop for others… that’s when the discounts really help a nice gift go a little further. The idea that someone who really needs it will get something, is that much more wonderful!

      Thanks so much for stopping by TFTM. I appreciate you taking the time to read and share your thoughts! I hope you’ll come back and weigh in on other posts. 😉

      Like

  13. Holli says:

    Thanks for sharing your opinion. I completely agree with you. I am also glad you pointed out the Facebook post because this is really an important point that I (speaking for myself) have taken for granted. As a Canadian, I can tell you that the mania of Black Friday is starting to creep up here too despite we celebrated our Thanksgiving awhile back. I suppose this means in a way that our Thanksgiving is still just that-spending time with family and friends. I feel consumerism has taken over our society to the point that we’ve just blindly accepted our fate. Every holiday has become bigger and more consumer based. It’s a collective illness and we literally buy into it. A couple of years back, we and our extended family decided to go ‘back to the basics’ and focus on spending time with one another. Yes, we buy for the kids but the real focus is on the precious time together as opposed to getting the best deal at the mall. We are privileged enough to make donations with money we would have spent elsewhere and it feels more amazing than any other deal out there! Plus, my blood pressure has gone down from not running all over or waiting in insane lineups. Your words are appreciated 🙂

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    • Wow, Holli! Some really strong points here! We live 20 minutes from the Canadian border, and I can assure you that consumerism is alive and VERY well in BC! I have gone to the mall some days and there are 5 BC plates per 1 WA plate. I kid you not. I do not shop at my local Costco anymore, because it is so crowded… with Canadian shoppers. I drive 30 minutes south, and find a quieter store. 😉 This trend toward buy, buy, buy is increasingly universal, but particularly in N.America. My friend, Mike, commented earlier about the simplicity of things in Croatia, where he is currently living. So, this simpler time still exists; but, sadly, not here anymore… I’m glad you and your family were able to carve out a more sacred space.

      Thanks so much for stopping by TFTM and for taking the time to read and share your thoughtful ideas. Your effort is much appreciated; I hope you’ll be back!

      Like

  14. That Facebook status makes a very good point and, to be honest, I’d never thought of it that say before.

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  15. etomczyk says:

    I agree with you so much. This is all about the Benjamins. If the stores clear a huge profit this year, shopping on T-Day is here to stay, if they don’t, then it won’t happen again. I’m not so sure it is the classic poor lining up for these deals, however. I used to know people who did this craziness and they were all middle class and above. They did it for the “deal” and their idolization of consumer goods, and because it was a lot more fun than hanging out with their families. Pope Francis’ statement this week was right when he attacked the “idolatry of money”–it is destroying the fabric of our families and our communities.

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  16. As you know Dawn, we still have Blue Laws in Mass, so they couldn’t open until midnight Friday. I still think that’s too early, but whatever. I think it’s ridiculous to open at 6 PM on a national holiday, to sell stuff for another national holiday. If Christmas shopping is so important, the stores should just open on Christmas then. I did make one purchase on Black Friday though. Pearl Jam’s new album Lightning Bolt was on sale on Amazon MP3 for $3.99. I never even left the couch for it. Thanks for the plug, my friend. I appreciate it. And that food looks delicious. What is that on the bottom left? I’ll have that.

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    • I don’t count on-line shopping. That is supporting the economy and not dragging anyone from the table. And, it’s Pearl Jam. As for the delicious item on the left, Latkes! It was Thanksgivinkkah after all. I made my latkes instead of mashed potatoes this year, and it was a huge hit! I am ever so thankful I don’t have to do it again for another 70,000 years. 😉

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  17. susanissima says:

    The holiday frenzy is such an impacting American experience. When we lived in Mexico, for example, Christmas did not involve giving gifts, but rather families went to Mass and then to a gathering in the zocolo (square) or off to the beach for a picnic. Posada, of course, was celebrated, but it was low key. Here, there an expectation of a lavish spread of foods and presents, brilliant and colorful decorations, music and prescribed events. Having to “perform” holidays puts terrifying pressure on those who want to or need to enjoy a simpler life. Where’s the humanity? Yes, of course, Black Friday must disappear, but the problem with holidays is much greater. Thanks for caring about this and sharing, Dawn. Hugs.

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  18. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I’ve never been a big fan of Black Friday and avoid it like the plague. But you have a good point, Dawn. It’s important to remember that there are those who can’t afford not to take advantage of the savings. It saddens me that many retailers are now opening on Thanksgiving. And the odd part? It’s all kindof made-up anyway! Why can’t the retailers just pick a “Global Sale Day” separated from the holiday and leave Thanksgiving alone!

    Like

    • Exactly! That would be a brilliant idea: a global sale day! It makes so much sense and I there is no legitimate reason to subject all of us to the disruption of our holidays. It’s a universal intrusion. If we all put our collective feet down and refuse to shop, it won’t benefit retailers. Great thoughts, Cathy. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

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