It seems as though there has been more chatter — much of it a sort of righteously indignant chatter — about the infringement of Black Friday sales starting one day early . . . prompted, of course, by the ever-increasing number of pre-Black Friday sales.
A record number of the nation’s largest retailers are planning to open their doors on Thanksgiving this year, offering the sort of huge savings that were once reserved for the day after. The prices are scheduled to plummet on the first door-busters before our turkey dinners have hardly had time to begin to digest.
It is the business world’s equivalent of keeping up with the Joneses. What started as an effort by some big box stores to lure a lion’s share of anxious holiday shoppers by offering sales before any of their competitors left the others no choice but to play catchup. And here we are. It is heaven on earth for shopaholics, while traditionalists are convinced it is yet another sign that our society is going to hell in a hand-basket.
Like a majority of Americans, I have an uneasy feeling about Thanksgiving Day sales events. But let’s lay the blame where blame belongs.
And retailers aren’t to blame.
Oh, sure, when you boil right down to it, you can make a strong argument that all of this could be avoided if retailers would simply refuse to host Thanksgiving Day sales. But retailers’ sole purpose is to turn profits. Growing the bottom line is the very essence of capitalism.
And if there is a market for drawing in overflow crowds of customers by offering electronics and other big-ticket items as discounted prices, it goes without saying that there are always going to be plenty of retailers willing to fill that niche.
The blame lies with you and I — consumers who can’t even set aside a single day to count our blessings and give thanks without interruption.
As someone so aptly quipped last week, “Only in America do people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what we already have.” Except now we’re scarfing down our turkey half-chewed so that we can rush out to take part in those people-trampling sales the same day.
Of course, I don’t really blame folks for taking part in Thanksgiving Day sales. In fact, those sales are for some the very way they spend time with family and friends on the holiday — by loading up and going shopping. Besides, I can attest first-hand to how difficult it is to let a single day go by without a trip to Walmart. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I typically spend part of my Thanksgiving Day perched on the side of a tree, patiently (or impatiently) scanning the surrounding forest for a deer slipping by, and I’m pretty sure there’s little difference between shopping and hunting.
But it is a shame that we’re losing the tradition of Thanksgiving. Whereas Thanksgiving was once a sort of kick-off to the Christmas season — with attention turning to thoughts of good tidings of great joy after the last piece of grandma’s pumpkin pie was consumed — attention now turns to Christmas long before Thanksgiving arrives. There is no better example than the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, where each year finds an increasing number of Christmas-themed floats taking part.
Christmas is my favorite holiday, and always will be, for multiple reasons.
But Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday, and it deserves that distinction. Because while all of us come from differing backgrounds and deal with different circumstances, I’m sure of this: you would be hard-pressed to find one person in all of Scott County — or in all of America, for that matter — who doesn’t have something for which to be thankful this Thanksgiving.
■ Ben Garrett is editor of the Independent Herald. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.