Many bloggers have already weighed in on this, so much so that my two cents worth may be mere ripples in a cheap mall fountain. In fact, when I got Matt Walsh’s blog in my inbox recently, I nearly aborted this post because he said a lot of what I wanted to say, what I’d already been ranting about, and said it better. Then I thought, nah, not everyone reads his blog* and I want my few and faithful readers to know what side I’m on and why.
Here’s what side I’m on: Shopping sales on sacred days is stupid. Thanksgiving may not qualify as a holy day, but thankfulness certainly ought to be sacred, as opposed to the cheap game we’ve turned it into by thanking God for parking spots, for discounts on the latest technology, for our favorite food. It’s disturbing that much of what people are showing gratitude for is based on some sliding scale of specialness: “I’m thankful for my home because many are homeless. I’m thankful for my well-stocked pantry because many are starving.” Yes, we ought to be genuinely thankful for our provisions but not because they compare favorably to the provisions of those who didn’t happen to win the born-privileged-in-a-first-world-country lottery. Comparative gratitude is just veiled bragging.
Sort of like this: I’m thankful that I ended up in a profession that allows me to have the week of Thanksgiving off. And while I don’t get paid for those days, I’m thankful that my contract is such that I can enjoy the break without fearing financial ruin. But I’m even more thankful for those who chose the medical and public safety professions. Emergencies don’t take holidays, so those folks can’t always celebrate with their families. I salute them. And gas station attendants. I’m thankful there are a few bright spots providing fuel and coffee to those who must be on the road to assist the rest of us.
But I am not in the least bit thankful that some retailers will be open on Thanksgiving day, and I don’t give a rip how deep the discounts will be.
Here’s why: We already suck** at family time, at setting aside even an hour to just sit and talk to one another without distractions. When I poll my high school students about how many have family meals sans technology, the response is depressing. Fewer than one-third of my bedroom-community, Bible-belt sophomores eat a TV/cell phone free meal with their families once a week. Thanksgiving is a family-oriented holiday. Shopping on Thanksgiving is no more a family activity than the Hunger Games is a harmless contest. Stay home and talk to your kids, parents, crazy aunts and uncles. Play a game. Take a walk. Try some face time that doesn’t require a smart phone.
Here’s another why: We already have enough stuff, hence our shallow list of things for which we are thankful. I’m not saying never make another purchase; I’m just pleading with you to not make it on Thanksgiving. It’ll keep. And it will likely still be on sale, especially if enough of us don’t show up on Thanksgiving. Basic economics, people…We drive the market. It’s time we took the back the controls.
And then there’s this: Because some knuckleheads think it’s a good idea to start Black Friday on Thanksgiving, the people who work for them will miss time with their families (and this it the part that ticked me off the most) to wait on people who have the luxury of having the day off with theirs. Granted, not all of the shoppers will be middle class professionals, but I bet someone could make a pretty distinct have/have not pie chart out of customer/employee stats.
I pointed that out to some acquaintances when the “Open Thanksgiving Day” announcements started hitting the newsfeed, and I was stunned at the responses: “So, they’ll probably get time and a half. I bet they could use the money” and “If they don’t like it, they can just quit, work somewhere else.” Um, no. I was a single mother for several years when my three children were young. I had not yet completed my degree, I was receiving no child support, my car was good for only short trips. My employment options were limited, so–because social services programs don’t pay for everything (or end poverty) and because I knew that I alone was responsible for my children and my choices–I took various low-paying jobs with few benefits to keep the electric bill paid and the kids in second-hand shoes. I could not have afforded to walk off those jobs: If I had been scheduled by my employer on a Thanksgiving, I’d have had to find a relative to keep my three small children so I could spend the “holiday” waiting on people who were getting discounts on things their children didn’t need at any price. I would not have been grateful for the time and a half. I would have been…sad.
I know exactly what it feels like to be treated like a scullery maid by someone who could not give a flip about my forlorn little family as long as she gets “an amazingly good deal, y’all!” and still has time to enjoy a latte and designer pie with her little darlings…or Folgers and leftovers…or whatever. And I know exactly what it feels like to have to work for whatever whenever so a corporation can provide bonuses to its already far-above-the-national-average executives who fly their families to resorts for the holidays.
I’m thankful I am not–and never will be–one of those jerks. I’m spending Thanksgiving with my friends and my family. I challenge you to do the same.
James 1: 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
* For the record, almost everyone reads Matt Walsh’s blog. And if my audience starts reading it, I’ll have a lot less to write about.
**A lot of you recoil at this word because you associate it with a very narrow, very inappropriate connotation. But it existed long before that vulgar usage (if you don’t know what I’m referring to, don’t ask me to explain it) and has maintained several meanings during and since. Bottom line: It fits here.
- Matt Walsh: If You Shop on Thanksgiving, You Are Part of the Problem (huffingtonpost.com)