Originally, and for hundreds of years, Thanksgiving was a day of celebration, of being thankful for our blessings and sharing with those we love.
Then, Thanksgiving became less traditional meaning turkey, family, football and a day off work.
Now, with “Black Friday”— and sometimes even “Black Thursday” — millions of American households consider Thanksgiving as a prelude to a shopping spree and are intent on rushing out to buy bargains for Christmas.
Black Friday used to be the extra dessert after Thanksgiving, a day to stretch our shopping muscles for Christmas. It was fun, productive and beneficial. But now some of us Americans believe retailers have crossed the line and shoppers have lost their minds, not to mention their manners.
For the last decade, retailers, keen to spur holiday spending, have moved the starting line forward for this consumer sport, luring shoppers to get up earlier and earlier on Black Friday or, in recent years, to leave their homes on Thanksgiving day itself by offering deals on limited supplies of high–visibility products such as must–have toys and the hottest consumer electronics. Grab your credit card, be the first in line, trample your fellow man and woman…get that deal!
Up to 150 million Americans visit stores on Black Thursday and Friday, with almost half this number saying they will definitely shop and the remaining 76 million say they will wait to see what merchants have on offer for the three full days after Thanksgiving. Billions of dollars will be spent.
While it is understandable that brick-and-mortar retailers have become very aggressive trying to reel in customers due to online competition, volatile consumer confidence, minimal margins resulting from continual markdowns and our inconsistent economy, the frenzy caused is absurd.
Gone are the days when shoppers pored over newspaper ads the day after Thanksgiving and then planned their fun trip to the Mall. Shopping now is more of an interactive game, in which consumers hunt and gather bargains forcing retailers to continually extend themselves and still make a profit. It’s all so exhausting.
The great game of holiday buying and selling added another dimension that took hold but is slowly reverting back. Employees are beginning to protest having to work on Thanksgiving. Americans are revisiting conversations about the real meaning of Thanksgiving, which previously had always been a traditionally important and restful holiday. Many of us have grown tired of watching people pushing, shoving and crushing each other on, or within 24 hours of Thanksgiving. Oh, the dichotomy of the human spirit.
The menacing Black Thursday turns off some Americans but no doubt there will be those who will line up early and rush in when the doors open on Thanksgiving evening. Those whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and still live in Plymouth, Massachusetts, are glad that Colonial-era blue laws prohibit retailers from plying their wares on Thanksgiving. They still know this holiday is about giving thanks for all we have.
However, most everywhere else in America, stores will fling open their door and move out of the way for their shoppers galore while letting commerce invade what used to be such an enjoyable and restful holiday.
So much for peace and quiet.
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