Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the Shopping Frenzy

When did Thanksgiving stop being about family, friends, and togetherness and become a dinner's done, thank the lord, now I can shop day? Was I snoozing over a very full stomach that I missed the transition? (Yes, I know it supposedly started as a peace gesture between current land owners and immigrants which went murderously awry.) Who developed the racing through the store's doors, running shopping carts down aisles like NASCAR drivers, and tearing through product displays combat game where arguing, fighting, and giving the worst attitude wins more points? (Sort'a like we did to Native Americans after the first feast, isn't it?) Was this change made to please those dear family members you rushed from the Thanksgiving table so you could buy the best present possible at the cheapest discount? Maybe we as a people need to rethink 'best' present, and the meaning of  'thankful.'

And don't tell me about Black Friday being the day retailers finally reach black in their accounting books, and we been doing it for decades. I know. Is the 'black' for the store's bottom line, or for shareholder earnings and the CEO’s bonus? Big difference. I've worked a lot of retail, and I don't buy it. It's hype. It's another sale. It's about getting shoppers in the store and dollars into the registers. I know many retail stores fail; it's a tough business, but to not break even until the end of November? No way, no how. Is it greed or desperation causing the big retailers to encourage Christmas shoppers into their stores not only before Halloween but also to open on Thanksgiving Day?

Okay, so if you don't like the trend, then don't participate; maybe it will fade away. However, all of you convenience store, gas station, and mini-market owners--please stay open on Thanksgiving Day! Either I or a family member is always on the road and we always seem to have to pick up some forgotten item like whipped cream! You’re laughing and accusing me of hypocrisy. I admit it. While so many people are on the roads traveling, it is important to have certain retail services available, but to turn Thanksgiving into a retail thanks for shopping quest somehow seems wrong. The gas station we stopped at Thursday said they were swapped. Good, at least it was worth the effort.

Yes, Thanksgiving has changed over time. No matter how it supposedly started with the Pilgrims and the Indians, or when Lincoln created the National holiday in 1863 during a terrible and bloody war, it has evolved into a day of shared traditions. One day a year to remember what you and I are most thankful for seems needed, which is hopefully not just possessions; plus, whether religion is involved or not, it is often for some families the one meal a year shared over the same table. Can we have it without a side of commercialism?

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