Photo: acnatta via Flickr
Thanksgiving used to be about celebrating the harvest from the hard and arduous months of tending crops.We would gather as a family and think about what we had to be thankful for as we stuffed our faces full of turkey and pie. If you take a step back even further, Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln right after the Civil War and a couple of days before his assassination on April 11, 1865.
For purists and Puritans, Thanksgiving started as the communal bonding between the new settlers seeking religious freedom and the native population.
So how did this great holiday turn into Christmas: pt 1?
Thanksgiving has turned into a complete afterthought to the mass commercialization of Black Friday, the largest retail spending day of the year. Many retailers rely on this day to crank up sales and our national economy even depends on the holiday season in order to grow and keep incomes steady. In order to boost sales and drive in business, big box retailers are beginning to open up shop before the holiday is even over.
While retailers feel they need to do this to remain competitive, there is an inevitable backlash with employees. According to the Denver Post, a Target store in Lincoln, Nebraska is asking its workers to come in no later than 10pm to begin their 10 hours shifts. This means that workers will have to go to bed by 1pm at the latest in order be well rested for their shift. Unless the notion of Thanksgiving breakfast or brunch rings true with workers, these big box retailers are in for some serious employee morale problems.
A petition on Change.org has over 85,417 signatures in support of Michael Hardwick’s proposal to have the store open at 5am instead of 11pm on Thursday. Family members travel from all over the country just to see each other on Thanksgiving, and this drastically cuts into time spent with one another. Also, the idea of getting an actual holiday needs to be concrete even in the rising demands of consumerism and rampant spending.
While the retailers are opening so early in order to nab the first Black Friday crowds, some consumers are put off by the blatant disregard the corporations have for families. According to a report by the New York Times, consumers are growing weary to the idea of having to line up on Thanksgiving in order to get the best deals. While in years past, Black Friday was traditionally seen as a burden to shoppers, having to stand in line for hours on Thanksgiving before actually shopping is cutting into time that could be spent with family.
Instead of clamoring to big box retailers, most consumers will take to online alternatives to find deals on popular items. With increased cloud Internet capabilities from companies like Amazon, Apple, and OnlineStorage.com, fears of server failure, security breaches, and slow data connections are less troublesome than in years past.
With the Occupy Wall Street movement gaining traction and consumers lacking the funds to spend all of their cash on Christmas gifts, this Black Friday may go down as one of the most frugal and conservative of all time. There will probably be stories of small men getting trampled by large women screaming for deals, but hopefully not in every newspaper.