Our opinion: You don't have to shop on Thanksgiving
We're all for store owners coming up with creative ways to boost spending in their stores.
Black Friday? We get it. There's something unique and fanciful about waiting around in the dead of night, hoping to pick up some good deals in the runoff to the Christmas Shopping season.
What we don't get is this new initiative where major retailers are basically forcing their employees to work on a national holiday.
On Monday, Target and Toys R Us announced they were joining retailers such as Macy's, J.C. Penney, Staples, Walmart, Kohl's and Best Buy in opening Thanksgiving night instead of in the wee hours of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
We realize for many families, Thanksgiving can be the one day of the year that family dysfunction rules the day -- when far-flung relatives who fled the nest to get away from each other for one reason or another are forced to sit down and have a dinner none of them are thankful for.
But for most of us, Thanksgiving is a day to break bread with our family members and friends, to count our blessings and talk about days gone by and hopes for the future, eat too much, go to a parade and maybe watch some football.
All in all, Thanksgiving is a day many of us look forward to all year, and it's not because of the deals and steals we can find at the local superstore.
"Somehow we have allowed a holiday that was supposed to be about remembering how much we have to be thankful for -- even in difficult times -- morph into a holiday about what we don't have," wrote Heather Long, for the Guardian. "Forget pass the turkey, we might as well just pass the coupons."
Long noted, quite correctly, that of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is the most quintessentially American, a holiday that dates back to the 1600s, when the future of what was to become the United States was one famine away from non-existence.
"It's not an overtly religious holiday, but somehow it has a spiritual tone to it that resonates across every ethnic and religious background," wrote Long. "Each wave of immigrants has embraced it and brought their own variations ...."
But, just as with every other holiday, from yesterday's Veterans Day, to President's Day, Memorial Day and especially Christmas, "we have allowed America's retailers to co-opt this day for their own greed ..." she wrote.
And while some might argue that people who work on Thanksgiving want to work on Thanksgiving, Long suggests you ask them how much they are looking forward to working on that day. But don't just listen to what they say, listen to how they say it and their body language when they say it.
"We really don't want to work that, but who would say no when you need the money?" one Sears associate told the Chicago Tribune. "To me, that's what Thanksgiving does, it brings you and your family together. And this is just taking it away."
Michael Bernacchi, a University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor might have hit the nail right on the head when he told the Detroit Free Press: "We are an addictive society. We're addicted to shopping. We're addicted to thinking we're getting the best deal."
Darrin Duber-Smith, marketing professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver, told the Chicago Tribune, the biggest piece of malarkey is that consumers are asking for an earlier holiday shopping season.
"We don't think it's the consumer saying, ‘Open up earlier, open up more,'" said Duber-Smith. "We think it's really the retailers trying to get at the wallet and pull them into the store -- to get to the money before it's all spent."
There's a new Facebook page -- "Say no to shopping on Thanksgiving" -- that has popped up in response to more and more stores opening up earlier and earlier.
While it only has 32,000 likes as of today, we applaud the sentiment that there are some things more valuable then parting with your hard-earned cash on a day when you should be sprawled out next to a dinner table, giving thanks, laughing at the antics of the young and old, and enjoying the company of family and friends.
We treasure that over becoming one with the masses as they rush the doors, knocking each other out of the way and stampeding the less-than hearty underfoot in search of the newest, brightest gizmo that is sure to be obsolete by next Thanksgiving.
We say take a deep breath, think about what Thanksgiving means to you and your family and enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie at your leisure. There will still be plenty of time to push and shove your way into fluorescent-lit aisles filled with strangers hell-bent on getting the best deal the next day.
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