I’ve written before about the loss of Thanksgiving to the great commercial steamroller of Christmas, Inc. And I really wasn’t planning to rant about it again, because I generally don’t like to bore my many readers with repetition (especially when I have newer, better ways to bore you). But recent events compel me to rant yet again about the creeping disappearance of Thanksgiving.
Black Friday — the day many retailers start to see black ink instead of red on their balance sheets — has become an explosion of pent-up pre-Christmas consumer spending for some years now. And that’s fine. We spend one day giving thanks for what we have, and the next pushing and shoving to get what we want. Capitalism at its finest. I have been known to participate in such fine madness myself on occasion.
But an increasing number of retailers this year have pushed back the doorbuster specials and blowout prices to as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. I find that appalling.
Are we Americans so caught up in our lust for the latest electronics, toys and kitchen appliances that we can’t manage to take even ONE single day to celebrate our many blessings? Honestly, for everyone reading this, no matter your circumstances, you are better off, in a material sense, than probably 98 percent of the world.
Don’t believe me? Try watching a TV show. The Amazing Race takes contestants around the world in a quest to win $1 million. In each country they visit, the contestants typically must perform a task native to the country and culture they’re in.
Two weeks ago, the players traveled to Bangladesh. The country has roughly half the population of the United States, but has a population density of nearly 2,800 people per square mile. Know what that number is for the U.S.? Try 87.4 folks per square mile. Tell me that’s not something to be thankful for.
Or consider this: we just had an incredibly divisive presidential election in the United States. A lot of people said things for or against a particular candidate quite vehemently. Try arguing against the official candidate (singular) in China. Freedom of speech is something to be thankful for. So is democracy.
On a more individual level, we all have things to be thankful for every day. Family, friends, good health, a roof over our heads, sufficient food and clean water, too many things to list, really.
Take away any one of those things, and how important is the latest i-Gadget in the bigger scheme of things? Is a single day to reflect on our good fortune without shopping too much to ask?
Come on folks, slow the consumer train down just a little. There’ll be plenty of time for shopping on Friday. Keep Thanksgiving as it was meant to be — noncommercial.