Black Friday becomes Black Thanksgiving

By Dave Palmer

By now, most people have heard from one or more media sources about the upcoming “door-buster deals” many retailers plan to offer on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. It seems every year, the advertising starts closer and closer to Halloween to the point where the two holidays seem to overlap at some stores. The newest, and perhaps most disgusting trend, is retailers that plan to open their doors on Thanksgiving to offer their door-busting deals a day earlier.

Since the time that online shopping graced the internet, people have shopped from home on Thanksgiving. Some of them want to avoid the toe-crushing, elbow-throwing crowds on Black Friday, others simply seek to get their shopping done a bit earlier while taking advantage of the online “door-busting deals,” while others are simply bored. Given the glut of electronic demand for Thanksgiving Day shopping, it only makes sense that brick and mortar businesses would want to join in the profit.

All this Thanksgiving shopping is terribly convenient to shoppers in our consumer-driven society, but it is terribly inconvenient to the people who have to work in the evening on Thanksgiving Day. Instead of curling up on the couch with droopy eyes in a tryptophan-induced food coma in front of the evening football game or playing board games with family members, they must put on their winter woolies and trundle off to work to watch people trample each other to buy new things just hours after they finished giving thanks for what they already have.

Public opinion is somewhat mixed about whether retailers should open on Thanksgiving Day. Some say that grocery stores have done it for years, so it only makes sense that other retailers would join suit, and that brick and mortar businesses need to be open to compete with online retailers. (Kroger is usually open at least in the morning on Thanksgiving Day, while Meijer is open 24 hours.) Others believe that Thanksgiving Day should be reserved for family and Black Friday should be reserved for clobbering each other and trampling the poor soul who gets to open the doors.

No matter what your take on the necessity of retail and other stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, it is clear that our society has gone completely crazy with mass consumerism. It is no longer enough for us to value family, friendship, and the few precious moments we have together on the holidays. Instead, we must value family and friendship on an expedited timeline to rush out of our homes to buy more meaningless crap for which to give thanks next year.

Gone are the times when families value each other’s company, here are the times where a bargain values outweigh family values in terms of entertainment value. Gone is the relaxation, decompression, and stress relief holidays are supposed to bring (no matter what your family situation is, there is a way to bring it about), here are the times when we pile into a relative’s home, kiss each other quickly on the cheek, gorge ourselves on mass-prepped and mass-produced “food”, then pile into the family sedan to be dazzled by fluorescent lights and garish colored signs filled percentage discounts, exclamation points, and arrows that point to the latest and greatest mass-produced junk.

We can give thanks to the smartphone and internet age for effectively giving us all attention deficit disorder.

Therefore, I lay a challenge before everyone who happens to read this column. This Thanksgiving Day, don’t give in to the temptation to ditch your family and friends in favor of “historically low prices.” If no one shows up to stores to buy things, they will have no reason to open up on Thanksgiving Day in the future.

Instead, honor history by taking the time to truly give thanks for relatives by both blood and law (no matter how much you think you hate them). Sure, the evening might end in Monopoly pieces scattered around the room after a sore loser dumps the board, but so what? This year’s disaster is next year’s laughing point.

This year, resist the urge to forego the memory of Uncle Donald getting plastered and dancing around the room with a turkey carcass on his head in favor of buying plastic garbage that will no doubt break the first time it is used and be just as quickly forgotten. Stuff on store shelves have a price for a reason; it’s intended to be replaced. Memories are priceless, and they can never be replaced with any amount of gifts received from your local big box store.

Celebrate “National Buy Nothing Day” (Society’s Slideshow)

By Dave Palmer

Every Thanksgiving, Americans celebrate the things they already have for which they are thankful. The next day, and  sometimes later the same day, they go out and trample each other to buy things for others so they can have something more to be thankful for next year.

It’s time to bring this madness to an end.

According to Wikipedia, National Buy Nothing Day started in September of  1992 in Mexico “as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.” In 1997, it gained traction in America among people who wish to reject the mass consumerism that has unfortunately become inextricably linked to the Christmas season and especially the day after Thanksgiving. In 2000, Adbusters began expanding the campaign deeper into the world market, reaching as far as 65 different countries today.

Black Friday has historically been a boom day for businesses, so much so that some American retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target open their doors on Thanksgiving to get a jump on the profits. If Americans don’t stand up and do something, or perhaps sit down and buy nothing, it will not be very long until every major retailer is open all day on Thanksgiving.

We as consumers give these stores the profit motive to open their doors at the crack of dawn on Black Friday. Thanks to the propensity of bored consumers to get a jump on Christmas shopping online before stores open Black Friday, Wal-Mart and Target now have a profit motive to open their doors on Thanksgiving.

If we as consumers resist the temptation to alleviate our Thanksgiving boredom by going out to shop, stores like Wal-Mart and Target will no longer find it profitable to open on Thanksgiving.

If we resist the temptation as consumers to rush out to stores the day after Thanksgiving and instead use that time to reflect on what we are already thankful for, stores will no longer have a profit motive to open early on Black Friday. They will no longer have a reason to offer door-buster deals over which people have been, and will continue to be trampled, unless we refuse to line up at the door.

Instead of trampling each other, perhaps people could trample some fallen leaves on a hike through the woods. They could also participate in zombie walks around malls, stage credit card cutting ceremonies, or walk around stores with an empty cart and buy nothing.

And buying nothing for 24 hours is exactly the point. It gives us a chance to rest, relax, and reflect on the things we already have for which we should be grateful. It gives us time to make deeper ties with relatives and friends. Most of all, it gives us an opportunity to think about what it might be like to not have enough money to have a Christmas at all.

There will be plenty of time to shop before Christmas. Most of the sales will remain in place long enough to take advantage of them, and in some cases, the deals will get better as stores become desperate to move products from the shelves to make room for new ones. In reality, the less we buy, the better the sales will get.

This year, make a commitment to buy nothing for 24 hours and celebrate what millions of others will be celebrating: a break from buying and mass consumerism.

Because the holiday season isn’t about who can give the greatest quality or the most expensive toys. It’s about celebrating family, friends, and the fact that we have so much to be grateful for in our lives. Let’s all take time to reflect those facts on National Buy Nothing Day.