The new meaning of Thanksgiving: rampant consumerism

By Greg Lane

Photo by Cat Wallace
Photo by Cat Wallace

I grew up believing Thanksgiving is the one holiday that can’t be commercialized like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween have been. Thanksgiving is a time of family, friends, good food, and reflection on the joy that exists in our lives. But this year I’ve seen the reality and give thanks for a different national pastime.

As I got older I learned about another day nationally “celebrated” each year. It’s a day of the year on which people have literally been trampled to death, a day that is infamous for ruthlessness and brutal fights between frenzied strangers, a day of avarice. I of course speak of Black Friday and not some Hollywood-stylized pagan celebration with goat sacrifices.

Now of course these incidents are rare and screamed about by media. Death by stampeding customers is not a typical job hazard to Wal-Mart employees. An argument over panties in Victoria’s Secret doesn’t always escalate into a brawl where a man is repeatedly kicked in the face while sprawled on the ground. Things happen, and people sometimes just get a bad deal.

Of course, when in the year am I going to get new crock pot and TV for half off besides Black Friday? I mean, it’s not my job to stop people from getting out of hand. That’s what the police are for. I just want a new stereo system.

Come next Thanksgiving I’ll be sure to say thanks to Target for giving me the opportunity to beat 20 teenagers to the cashier with the last PlayStation 4 in store—that is if I’m not happily rushing to line up at the doors when they open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving instead of enjoying quality time with my family.

This last Thanksgiving, while relaxing on the couch after a heavy feast of fat and calories, I saw countless commercials for Black Friday on the TV. However, these commercials were advertising how stores were opening that evening, on Thanksgiving, with some doors opening as early as 6 p.m.

Isn’t it fantastic? Stores have finally just said “why not” and consumers are happy to play along. I know where I will be for my future Thanksgivings, certainly not at my grandmother’s table with the dumb bird she overcooked. She can make me something to eat any time of the year but the Black Friday sales only happen once! Heck, why not make a day of it and take her with me after we eat? Black Friday isn’t just for the young; it’s a day for the whole family.

America needs to change the way Thanksgiving looks. It is sickening to see the image of Thanksgiving with prudish puritans, pilgrims, and Native Americans sharing corn when it’s really about gearing up for a shopping spree.

This is where Thanksgiving is headed, a time where families come up with the best plan of action for their morning assaults on the local mall. It certainly spices up the boring old Thursday. Think of all the calories we would be burning as we race from aisle to aisle. We’ve got to lose that gravy fat somehow.

Is this the future mindset of the holidays among Americans? How long until we have Black Thursday, and Black Wednesday, and then Black Week? Will we need to eventually differentiate between Black History Month and Black “Sales” Month?

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