Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday blues

In case a person hasn't heard, yesterday was Black Friday. I can't imagine anybody hasn't heard of it because the event receives as much publicity as the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrated on Thursday.
Black Friday is a manufactured event in which the focus is on how much shopping our country does in anticipation of Christmas. If ever there was an event that displayed the United States’ obsession with materialism, it is this event. And it is tremendously disappointing.
After all, in the eyes of many, Christmas will not exactly be Christmas unless we all run out and spend ourselves blind. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy buying gifts for loved ones and consider it a blessing to be able to show those around me how I feel about them.
However, things are being taken too far. How far? Let us begin with the actions of many national retail chains on Thanksgiving.
Not too long ago, Thanksgiving was a holiday in which most reputable businesses would shut down for the day to allow their employees to spend time with their families. Unless somebody worked in the area of essential services (police, fire, news/communication, etc.), there was a good chance they would enjoy a day off.
This attitude is slowly changing, and we saw evidence of that on Thursday. Many national chains opened on Thanksgiving night to get a jump on Black Friday. Several opened at 8 or 9 pm Thanksgiving night and stayed open through the night into Friday.
I know times are tough economically and businesses need to exploit every opportunity to make money. But seriously, do we really have to spoil a national day of Thanksgiving so people can tumble over each other to buy things they do not really need anyway? Can’t we wait one more day before we do that?
Unfortunately, I see Thanksgiving going the way of other holidays in terms of how it is respected. I am old enough to remember when holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day resulted in many businesses being shut down so their employees could observe the holiday. Not anymore. Those days are business as usual for most companies now.
Now, it appears the same treatment is being given to Thanksgiving. How long will it be before most businesses are observing normal working hours on this day? After all, a major component for many on this holiday is to give thanks to God for how our nation has been blessed. As our country becomes more secularized, will the need for a day of Thanksgiving be watered down or eliminated?
Don't laugh. It would be easy to write me off as hysterical and paranoid on this topic, but as Bobby Dylan sang:  The times they are a-changin'.
It is hard for me to respect a company that would not allow its employees to have Thanksgiving off as a holiday. Additionally, I will be keeping a close eye on what companies will be open on Christmas as well. My money talks (and so does yours), and if I catch wind of a company showing such disrespect toward its people, then it will be difficult for me to spend money there.
While some may scoff and believe that one person cannot make a difference, I will respectfully remind those people that many of the messes in our country are because people simply will not take a stand against issues that are wrong.
As a country, we worship at the altar of materialism. We look the other way most of the time. Can't we just draw the line and let Thanksgiving and Christmas remain special days? It is not much to ask.

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