One of the signs of advancing age is growing nostalgia. I no longer ridicule those who say, “back in my day” since I’m often now the one saying it. Oh, I’m not anti-technology, nor do I automatically think that things were better back in my day. But I am convinced that there was one thing dramatically better back in my day.
We would have a large gathering of family and friends; the meal started around noon. Turkey. Dressing. Mashed potatoes. All the expected delicacies! Grandma made ambrosia with fresh Florida oranges and shredded coconut. After the food came the football. No, back then we did not just watch football, we played it. My brother and cousins and whomever else was around would get a backyard game going. The Cowboys and the Lions had nothing on us for intensity. Then we started in on the turkey sandwiches and other leftovers. When I lived in the USA (not counting my years in Taiwan) we generally watched the Cowboys game. It was a day I looked forward to all year long; a day I hated to see end.
But I can tell you one thing that was never even a small part of a single celebration of Thanksgiving in all those wonder years when I was growing up.
There was a simple reason for that. It was Thanksgiving. Stores were closed. You might have been able to find a gas station open somewhere, but department stores, grocery stores and just about every other commercial establishment had the doors locked and the lights off. If you forgot the milk you’d have to find a cow or do without.
Frankly, if Black Friday was an institution back then, I never heard about it. It may have been in its infancy, but it was not the frenzied pagan festival that it has become today.
A couple of years ago, I was upset that the only store I’ve ever stood outside of on Black Friday morning, Best Buy, was joining with other stores to start the madness at midnight, instead of 5 am. That meant that if you wanted to get any of the doorbuster deals they would offer, you’d have to spend your Thanksgiving camped out in the parking lot. That is just no way to spend Thanksgiving.
Now, though, the high priests of Mammon have upped the ante. No longer is Thanksgiving to be the calm before the Black Friday storm. Now, it is the maelstrom itself. Best Buy, Walmart and several others stores have decided that money is more important than family, and they are opening on Thanksgiving day.
And this is one old codger who is ticked!
I realize we live in a post-Christian, pagan culture. I realize that some people have always had to work on Thanksgiving. I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving when a tragedy befell a family in my previous church. Life happens. But there is simply no good reason to open stores on Thanksgiving Day. Don’t they make enough green on Black Friday?
There is one thing that is clear. Stores like Walmart and Best Buy cannot be appealed to on the basis of morality or of right or wrong. They do not care about such things. They care about one thing and one thing only – the bottom line. They serve the God of the Black Ink. When you read the justifications some of these stores have given for their crass decision to open on Thanksgiving, you find kind of word-play that would have made George Orwell’s Big Brother proud.
There is only one language these people understand. Money. Profit. Business. If we don’t shop there, they won’t stay open. So, I would suggest the following.
1) Don’t shop on Thanksgiving. Just say no. Don’t do it. There’s no deal that is worth missing time with family.
2) Let the companies know that you think this is a bad decision. Be respectful. A well-written and direct letter or email is much more effective than angry or threatening words. Bluster is not only ineffective, but counter-productive.
3) Talk to the manager of your local store – again, politely. Most stores take those things seriously.
Maybe I am just an old fogey. but this is a big deal to me. I’m not against Black Friday. I’ve gotten some pretty good deals! But I think that turning Thanksgiving into a bacchanalia of commercialism is just not right.
Who agrees with the old codger? If you do, this might be a good time to take a gentle, polite, but firm and unyielding stand.