This post originally appeared on FIC Blog for Thanksgiving, 2013. Author’s note: I’m saddened to see that my prediction about coercive corporate policies was dead on. However, my unscientific observation is that social media backlash seems to be growing, and for that I’m thankful! Here’s the updated list of who will and won’t be open. I’ll be voting with my feet and my wallet.
The first time I heard some blogger quip about “Black Thursday,” I recoiled like a vampire from a cross. You think that’s cute now, I thought, just wait until it starts to stick.
About this time last year, I was struck with sadness by the juxtaposition between these two headlines on MSN Money’s Smart Spending blog:
I never really went for Black Friday, but I figured if people wanted to take their lives in their hands for cheap waffle irons, and it gave them a rush, it wasn’t my problem. I feel strongly that the creep into Thanksgiving is different.
Thanksgiving may be just a day, but unfortunately it’s one of the only major, anti-materialistic holidays we have left. Even the celebration of Christmas has metamorphosed into something that I think it’s fair to say neither Jesus nor the real Saint Nicholas would entirely recognize. More than many other holidays, Thanksgiving has held out as a national expression of gratitude for the important things in life; the turkey is just a perk. Personally, I think the Evil One just despises simple, humble gratitude. Until recent years, it seems, certain boundaries weren’t widely crossed. Then Walmart, or Target (I don’t remember which – it probably doesn’t matter) triggered a race to the bottom.
At this point I would like to make clear what this post is not about:
Some places sell life-sustaining things, like food and medication. I’m not going to castigate Aunt Edna for forgetting the cranberry sauce in spite of her best efforts, or Stop & Shop for being there because they know somebody’s going to forget something in spite of the level of preparation.
Some people will always have to work on holidays, such as nurses and firefighters. God bless them.
Some people need the cash flow so badly that they cannot turn down the opportunity to make overtime, and some people who sacrifice greatly during the rest of the year are using the discounts to try to give their kids some joy. I get that.
This is about retail and the temptation to acquire cheap, unnecessary stuff on a day that has traditionally been set aside to give thanks for the blessings we have. My ire is largely reserved for the companies who do this, not so much the patrons or employees. They are tempting people, and when it comes to their employees, they wield an unfair amount and kind of pressure. We have all seen, with abortion and same-sex “marriage,” the falsity of the idea that personal decisions don’t affect anyone else. I expect that in coming years, in retail, there will be a top-down shame associated with not being willing to work on Thanksgiving Day. It will not look like coercion, but no worker who really needs his job wants to be labeled “not a team player.” The dubious notion that employees do this completely of their own free will allows the big box retailers and big-name department stores, at least temporarily, to avoid the fair criticism that it probably would not kill them to pay just enough to give their employees ONE day off with their families. To some of us, that would be public relations gold.
If it wasn’t obvious, I plan on avoiding these and other retailers on Thanksgiving Day. The rest of the year, I have already begun not exactly a boycott, but a significant limiting of what I spend at places that are willing to try to make a buck by undermining this holiday. When I encounter a business that closes to give their employees this day off, I say thank you. I aim to persuade, not to put anyone on the defensive, so I’m asking for people to join me if they think I have even the slightest bit of a point. This is my plea: If you don’t need to shop, don’t; if you don’t need to work, don’t. Doubtless some of our readers are planning to already, but consider making even a small contribution of time or treasure to a charity. Help preserve Thanksgiving for everyone.
To all our members and their families, a happy, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving!