Long Live the Black Thursday Backlash
Thanksgiving is a great holiday because anyone can participate in it. It’s a secular tradition that encourages thankfulness and humility.
No matter what your background or thoughts about the country’s origins, everyone has something to be Thankful for. Even if your life is miserable and you’re having tough times, someone somewhere has helped you and your own mind will be better off if you show gratitude.
But Thanksgiving is also the kickoff of the holiday season (“holiday” meaning Christmas and/or Chanukah), and as such it has been accompanied in recent decades by the ever-present “Black Friday” when the Christmas-fueled gluttony of commerce commences.
Every year we are treated to fresh news footage of frenzied shoppers trampling one another or rioting over merchandise as stores open their doors on “Black Friday,” the first full day of holiday season shopping. Actual deaths by trampling at some of these Black Friday events haven’t dissuaded people from standing in line for hours for the chance to surrender their dignity in return for a discount on merchandise. It would be interesting to see what percentage of fanatical Black Friday shoppers actually spend the bulk of that day’s shopping money on themselves rather than on gifts for others.
In my extended years of post-college underemployment, I worked for a time as a sales associate in a suburban department store. I remember having to wake up at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving because the store opened at 6 a.m. instead of the usual 9:30 or 10 a.m. I remember pulling my beat-up van into the parking lot at 5:30 a.m. and seeing people already standing outside the doors waiting. I remember hating each of them instantly, and finding them among most pathetic forms of life on Earth. You could always count on these early shoppers to be absolute jerks as well. They’ll argue loudly over five cents and treat you like garbage.
It is my ambition every year now to do all of my Christmas shopping online. I don’t want to have to enter a single store or post office to buy or send Christmas gifts.
But the popularity of Black Friday events has not waned.
And recently things took a deeper step into the ridiculous as some stores have been opening their Black Friday sales on Thursday, Thanksgiving.
That’s been the tipping point for a lot of people. Watching Neanderthal shoppers trample people to death or claw each other’s eyes out for a flat-screen television didn’t offend enough people for a backlash, but being open on Thanksgiving has.
And it’s right that it should. Those people who stand for hours in the cold waiting for the Friday sales to open want to be there, but asking store employees to come in on Thanksgiving is beyond a consumer’s capacity for rapacious cruelty.
People are urging one another not to reward companies that open on Thanksgiving. Some stores are even taking advantage of the backlash and advertising that they are NOT open on Thanksgiving.
There are some places that should be open on Thanksgiving. We don’t mind police and firefighters having to work; we need them all the time. We don’t need to buy televisions on Thanksgiving.
Maybe the outrage generated by attempts at having a Black Thursday will turn the tide against holiday consumer culture. If it makes even a modest dent, that would be one more thing to be thankful for.