Here’s a fact, and a well known secret at that, Christmas comes on December 25th every year. Although I’m like most people who wait until November or December to purchase gifts, what I don’t do is shop during the insane periods when last minute shoppers do. And if I can help it, I do the majority of my shopping online. However, I honestly wish I was better at shopping throughout the year. What I’ll never do is shop on Thanksgiving Day.
I must admit, when hearing about the slew of retail stores opening on Thanksgiving Day I was disgusted. Sure, I’m a red-blooded American and I love my conveniences, but going to the store to shop on Thanksgiving is not one of them. I remember as a child growing up in Jamaica when most places were closed on Sundays. We’d occasionally drive downtown and it was like a ghost town. I’d grown accustomed to there being time when people simply got to be home with their families or when they had down time to not be at work. When I returned to the US I slowly acclimated to having stores open on Sundays and for the most part didn’t have a problem with that. But what I don’t agree with is us as a society having a need or expectation that everything is 24/7.
In my mind Thanksgiving and Christmas are those sacred days where most of us are supposed to and do take the time to spend time with family. It’s the time when there can be virtually no excuses for not doing so. Granted, I know that there are restaurants that remain open on these days but retail stores!? I love a great deal like the next person but I just don’t see, when there are 365 days in the year, why we can’t take a day or two to simply be.
Now there are pre-Black Friday sales and post-Black Friday sales and everything in between. There is a sale to introduce the upcoming sale and sales for those who missed even that sale. I know that we all need to make money but must we do so at the continued expense of our much-needed downtime? Regardless of how you feel about the holidays, their meaning and so forth, we all need some time to decompress. The holidays are that built-in time to do so. But now, with virtually every department store open and ridiculously insane specials to entice ordinarily sane people outside of their beds and homes in the wee hours of the morning, when do we take a break?
I assure you, there is nothing that is worth me leaving the comfort and warmth of my time with family on Thanksgiving or Christmas. There is no holiday memory that I would cherish if it involved me standing in long lines, sitting in traffic, or wading through throngs on people. It’s just hard to understand why it’s necessary for retail establishments to encroach upon Thanksgiving. When I list what I’m thankful for it will definitely not be them. I don’t want for anyone to take away time from more important things in life. Yes, it’s exciting to purchase gifts and gadgets at amazing prices but I choose to abstain from having my stress level elevated, my bank account left barren and having less time to spend with those whom I love.
There are traditions and experiences that simply should remain pure. I feel that Thanksgiving is one of them. And so I’m choosing to practice what I preach. There are several hundred other days in the year to spend the little money that I have and Thanksgiving Day will never be one of them. While I’m happy for those who are able to earn some needed extra dollars on that day, I’m sad for those who are forced to work during a time when they should be with their loved ones. So much has become so commercialized, it’s important that we hold on to some things that are dear. After all, before you know it tradition will become little more than a faded memory and so too will the opportunity to take some time for ourselves.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 11/27/13 issue of The Union-Recorder. It appeared under the title, Black Thursday? What Happened to Our Holiday?