Black Friday is an amazing, wonderful invention of a holiday. Even more amazing, some might argue, than Thanksgiving itself. It is a day characterized by savings, spending, and materialistic capitalism.
In all seriousness, Black Friday is a great day to get a deal on items that you might normally not consider purchasing. As it marks the beginning of the holiday season, it is the ideal time to purchase gifts for loved ones, and maybe to treat yourself to something special.
However, in recent years, this annual day-after-Thanksgiving tradition of waiting for store doors to open Friday morning and frantically scrambling to find the best deals has changed. Black-Friday has gradually been encroaching upon Thanksgiving Day territory, with stores opening on Thanksgiving to maximize Black Friday sale hours.
As great as this might seem (more hours = more savings, right?), it points to a bigger problem created by the capitalistic ideals of American society. With this seemingly minimal expansion of Black Friday, we see a shift in the focus and energy of the holiday weekend.
Thanksgiving, a holiday intended to celebrate and acknowledge our gratitude towards the people and blessings in our life, has become, like many major holidays, a commercialized event. The focus has shifted from gratitude to things like football, food, and Black Friday. While none of these are inherently bad, the prioritization of material and physical things over concepts such as thankfulness and appreciation is indicative of a cultural shift towards superficiality.
Stores being open and promoting Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving stands in direct contrast to the point of the holiday. What is supposed to be a celebration of our gratitude is interrupted by a fixation on getting more. We disrupt the mindset of thankfulness with a culture of consumerism.
In the past few years especially, I have seen this change in my own family's celebration. Thanksgiving seems to be more rushed, people seem to be less present or mindful of their blessings, and the conversation is often littered with a discussion of who will be going to what store at which time to buy what presents.
And I'm guilty of it too - I have left family Thanksgiving events early to get to the mall with my friends, and have spent good portions of dinner on my phone searching for store opening times or making plans about where to meet.
I see this and compare it to earlier memories of Thanksgiving, where my family would go around the table and talk about what they were grateful for during the past year, and what we wanted for each other in the coming year. While we maintain conversations in this spirit, they are more superficial, more hurried, and more for the sake of tradition than anything else.
I love Black Friday as much as the next person. I love sales, shopping, and picking out presents. This Thanksgiving, however, let's bear in mind what we are gathering to celebrate and make gratitude the priority. Leave Thursday to Thanksgiving, and save the Black Friday shopping for Friday