Opinion: The ugly truth about Black Friday

ann-voightBy Ann Voight.

Thanksgiving: A time for forcing family together to explain why they’re thankful for everyone else. A time for eating lots and lots of food until you’re stuffed full and practically passed out from a food coma.

This is the time for gathering around the TV and watching a marathon of football games, the Thanksgiving Day parade, or holiday-themed, made-for-TV movies.

This year, people can add shopping for gifts. Yes, that’s right. Shopping.

Instead of being grateful for the things we are fortunate to have in our lives—the luxuries we take for granted like running water, heat in the winter, warm clothes—the day has shifted its focus.

We have begun to resent the non-essential things we don’t currently have, those things we deem important to our happiness.

Gray Thursday has begun, and it’s not going to be pretty.

This year, a handful of stores have decided to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day instead of the recent trend of opening early on Black Friday.

Many of the stores opening on Thursday will open at 8 p.m. Among the stores opening early are Target, Kohl’s, Sears, J.C. Penney and Younkers.

Kmart plans to open their doors at 6 a.m. on Thursday, and to stay open continuously for 40 hours, until 11 p.m. on Friday. Old Navy plans to open at 9 a.m. and Toys-R-Us at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.

What does this mean for the families who have Thanksgiving traditions of trekking out to the mall at 4 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving? Will they forgo shopping altogether on Friday, load up the car with children and a tent late Wednesday night, and eat their turkey-dinner while they wait in line?

Should retailers hand out barf bags in order to accommodate the customers who will go directly from dinner with the family to running through the stores, searching for door-buster deals, like crazed coupon-a-holics?

It worries me more that we as a society have decided to eschew the meaning of Thanksgiving—different cultures coming together, providing support and gratitude for each other—just so we can save a buck and have tangible proof of how much we love each other.

I can’t really blame the businesses for opening as early as possible. After all, their goal is to make a profit, and if the demand is there, why not open for a few hours and make a substantial amount of money?

I hope that having stores open on Thanksgiving won’t have a negative impact on the holiday and what it stands for, and that this is not the start of a newer trend.

I hope the holiday about putting aside differences and celebrating what’s similar stays the norm and doesn’t become a holiday surrounded by greed and owning possessions.

Will Gray Thursday be the downfall of a cherished American holiday, or a nice reminder of what’s really important? Only time will tell.

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