You see the irony, don’t you?
Here we are, a nation of things where a house, food, and cable is commonplace for most and an array of clothing and electronics aren’t unusual for many. We set aside one day a year to give thanks for all that we, as one of the richest nations in the world, are fortunate to have. But now with stores opening for Black Friday deals at 5pm or earlier on Thanksgiving, our day—and our thought—of thanks is cut short to buy more stuff.
And if retailers have it their way, Thanksgiving won’t even exist in a few years.
Don’t get me wrong. I know many of us face the anxiety of a long gift list. And I know that money feels tight at this this time of year (if not all year long). Besides that, who doesn’t love a great bargain? There’s something satisfying about saving 50%. In fact, I imagine many of us are more excited to buy that feeling than even the product itself.
But is it worth it?
Many, including the Wall Street Journal and PC World, point out the hoax-tactics of retailers on Black Friday, noting that what we’re made to believe is the single best day of the year to shop is not actually always the case. Stores frequently up “list” prices or sell old or sub-par models of electronics to make consumers feel like they got an amazing deal, while just-as-good (or better) deals can be had online in the weeks leading up to Christmas or at other times of the year.
No doubt, there are a handful of legit deals out there, but they are frequently limited only to the doorbusting few who can get to them first. The rest of us are baited out of our homes and into the stores, where bargains on everything else can be just as sub-par as products we buy.
It’s not that I’m opposed to Black Friday all together. Post-Thursday shopping is a tradition many look forward to and if your cup of tea is to go out in the wee small hours Friday morning, I say go for it. But when retailers’ attempts to make more money for their own wallets cuts into a holiday reserved for giving thanks something is collectively taken from us all.
In an article about the “War on Thanksgiving”, the New York Times says that “retailers wouldn’t open on Thursday if they thought customers would rather spend time at home”. I can’t say I entirely agree with that.
Customers might very well rather be home, but by being open on Thanksgiving Day it forces money-conscious and bargain-loving people to shop…or else miss the “deals” everyone else will nab first. And so far as the employees of these stores goes, while some welcome the extra pay, the rest are also forced to give up their Thanksgivings to succumb to this new, and unfortunate, norm.
As a result, the message of Black Friday’s bleeding into Thanksgiving is that, whether it’s forced upon us or we happily go along with it, we as a nation are unable to make it through even one day of the year without thinking about how we can gather more.
And even if we are among those for whom a family gathering is something more to be feared than anticipated, it wouldn’t hurt us to have a day of rest—a break from the go, go, go and buy, buy, buy mentality that seems to drive the other 364 days of the year.
We shouldn’t have to give up our Thanksgiving for items on shelves.
So let’s unpopularize Black Thursday. Set aside one day of the year to rest or enjoy a warm meal as a way of reminding yourself to appreciate all you have. Stay home and watch football, or better yet play football. If you want to venture away from the house, go volunteer at a food bank or bring a meal to an elderly person who thought they were forgotten. Cheer on stores who stay closed on Thanksgiving, and give retail workers the chance to spend time with their families.
Give thanks instead of giving in.