I sit here less than twelve hours away from the start of Thanksgiving Day and can’t help contemplating the upcoming holiday. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, family and friends. The warmth and love surrounding this holiday has always been something I’ve looked forward to. Even when I was in the military Thanksgiving was a time to gather at someone’s house to celebrate and enjoy the company of good friends. We always took time out to remember our Shipmates, brothers and sisters in arms, who were away from loved ones doing their duty to our country. It meant everything then. But, it means so much more now as our kids grow older and our time together as a family wanes.
So, my question is this, where did Thanksgiving go? When did we as a society decide shopping and cheap electronics was more important than family, friends and thankfulness?
I look around at the ridiculous amounts of Christmas decorations adorning stores and neighbor’s yards. I got out of the car to pump gas and was assailed by Christmas carols being piped over the speaker system. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays as much as anyone, but really? Why can’t we hold off until Friday? I watched a commercial for JcPenney’s where they chant Go, go, go, go. go, go, SHOP, SHOP, SHOP. Why does the shopping season now start on Thanksgiving? Aren’t we kind of missing the point?
Do you know where the term Black Friday came from? Many believe it came from an accounting term. The Friday after Thanksgiving was the start of their most financially solvent period. It would send their finances from the red into the black. Yes, that’s all this season means to retailers. Get the customers in, make them spend money, don’t care how it’s done, just do it.
And we fell for it.
Back in 1924 the Macy’s Day Parade was started because many of the employees of Macy’s were first generation Americans who were proud of and wanted to celebrate their new American heritage? Macy’s had intended it to be an employee celebration of thanks, not the official ushering in of the shopping season.
WOW! Imagine that. New Americans being thankful for being in this country and for everything they had been blessed with on a holiday made for just that occasion.
So, what happened? When did a celebration of joy, pride, and thankfulness become a way to push consumers into buy, buy, buying? How did Black Friday eat Thanksgiving Day?
We let it become the monster that it is. We let greed for a good deal drive us to camp out in front of retail stores to be the first to get that $300 laptop. We allowed retailers to dictate to us how we were going to spend the holiday weekend. They are laughing all the way to their billion dollar bank accounts while their minimum wage employees have to put the turkey down, step away from the table and go to work.
I’m reminded of the beginning scene of A Christmas Carol ~
SCROOGE: You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose.
CRATCHIT: If it is quite convenient, sir.
SCROOGE: It’s not convenient and it’s not fair. If I were to stop half a crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used. And yet, you don’t think me ill-used when I pay a day’s wages for no work.
CRATCHIT: Christmas only comes once a year, sir.
SCROOGE: A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December! But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier the next morning!
CRATCHIT: I promise, sir. Merry Christmas, sir!
We watch this scene and can recognize it for what it is. Why can we not recognize it in real life? Scrooge demands Cratchit work Thanksgiving…all in the name of squeezing consumers a little bit longer, a little bit harder, a little bit more aggressively each year. All the while shouting, “Give the people what they want!”
Well, I don’t want it. I choose to side with Cratchit, not Scrooge. I refuse to be a party to something that has robbed families of the reason we gather. Be thankful, people…not greedy.
I will not be shopping anywhere on Thursday. Shopping can wait. I’ll be at home, enjoying my family and the blessings I’ve had this year.
I shall keep Thanksgiving in my own way.
Will you join me?