Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Posted by on Nov 22, 2012 in Social Issues | 0 comments

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Traditionally a time when families and loved ones gather together to share a feast and enjoy, or depending upon the family (member) endure one another’s company.  We gather to give thanks for surviving the hard times.  We give thanks for being sustained through the lean times.   In today’s economy, this seems particularly appropriate.  Good, decent people have been out of work for a long time for reasons beyond their control and they will give thanks for what they do have.

If Thanksgiving is about taking a minute to count our blessings and devote time to the things that are truly important in life, our families and loved ones, Black Friday is the antithesis of all that is worthy and good about us.  On Thanksgiving day we gather to count our blessings and be with one another.  On Black Friday people gather outside of stores and trample strangers to get a perceived deal on an item that will probably be broken or discarded before the year is out.

On Thanksgiving we celebrate all that is lasting and meaningful about our lives, the people who are important to us and to whom we are important. We celebrate the relationships that give our lives true worth, be it with family or friends, relatives by blood or choice.  Family is not always the people who you are related to, family is the people who care about you and nurture you.

On Black Friday we forget how much we already have and turn into snarling beasts, fighting over scraps, to get one more thing that we probably don’t even have room for in our homes.  People assault strangers to get that “perfect gift” for someone who won’t even give it a second thought once the presents are all opened and the wrapping paper discarded.

We do these things for the people we love.    I just don’t think that a gift that comes with such a high price is worthy of the people we love.  If we have to be cruel to strangers for something that dishonors the person we give that thing to.  If we have to be brutes to get a thing, that denies the love we feel for the person we are getting the gift for.  It diminishes our love for the people we love when we use that love as an excuse to behave like part of a mob.

I won’t shop on Black Friday.  I won’t shop at any store that forces their employees to come in on Thanksgiving Thursday ever.  The people I give gifts to are worth my best effort and my best self.  Not a snarling, vicious, jackass in search of a deal.  The people I love are worth my best self when I’m selecting their gifts and when I give them their gifts.  It says that my love for them is so vast that it spills over onto others.  It says that I value their good opinion of me so much that I will not abuse others to save a couple dollars.

When I give gifts, it is an act of love.  It is an act that comes from my best self and the self I want to be for them.  I will not behave in such a way as to diminish the gift or the love from which that gift comes.  I don’t think it is any mistake that the name Black Friday has transformed from a term indicating the day when shops would finally start making a profit in their ledgers, being in the black, to a term with more graveyard connotations.

I also think it is an obscenity that such a thing happens the very day after we gather together with the people who mean the most to us to give thanks for what we already have.  It is an insult to Thanksgiving, when we gather together to reaffirm the most valuable thing we will ever have, love, that the very next day, before the first leftovers have even been eaten, we turn into ravening mobs for the sake of consuming yet more things that have no true meaning.


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