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!)
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.”
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.
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
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