How can Black Friday follow Thankful Thursday?

The past few years, I have been more and more angry at how materialism is taking over our autumn and winter season. When I was growing up in Vermont we had an extended Thanksgiving vacation with relatives from all over New England coming to visit our Vermont farmhouse to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. I always looked forward to this holiday. Friends and family would arrive on Wednesday night and stay for a three day feast of eating, visiting and playing games. During those years, I learned how to play charades, make turkey soup and enjoy a house full of company. Never once do I remember shopping as part of this holiday season.

Black Friday, has actually been around for decades and people think of it as the kickoff to the holiday season. In the end of the 2000’s, stores opening times began to creep from 6am to 5 or 4am. I often remember wondering who would get up at this hour of the day simply to go shopping. I am a morning person but the desire to get up at some ungodly hour simply to drive to a store for a sale item that I may or may not even get, just never appealed to me.

This year, I heard that Walmart was working to beat the Black Friday rush and planned on opening at 8 pm on Thanksgiving Eve. Apparently, this new revolutionary idea began last year when Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Best Buy all decided to open their stores at 12 midnight on Thanksgiving Day evening. I am furious and embarrassed and just can’t accept this terrible materialism creep we are constantly barraged with these days.

Have we lost all sense of what this holiday is about? Is there no thought that Thanksgiving could actually be about spending time with family and friends. Being together at a dinner table, talking, eating and laughing. By opening even earlier than they used to these big box stores are not only disrupting Thanksgiving by enticing people to go shopping during what used to be a family holiday, they are also probably requiring their employees to come work for those shifts, cutting short their employees holiday celebrations as well.

When I posted my thoughts this morning on Facebook wondering if I was the only one feeling irked at this continued commercialism creep, the comment section was flooded with friends agreeing with my concern. One friend wrote, “Boycott Black Friday. The ultimate irony to interrupt the day dedicated to being thankful for the stuff we have in order to buy more stuff…”

Since I do not celebrate Christmas personally, I always chalked my feelings up to not understanding what the “pressure” of the Christmas gift giving season must be like. But when I see all the posts from my non-Jewish friends I realize that this materialism has become a self fulfilling prophecy in our country. The stores open earlier because people show up to buy. By boycotting Black Friday we can let stores know that we don’t appreciate their honing in on our family time. Apparently, people are willing to give up their family time just to save a buck. I think it’s ridiculous.

What other ways can we let corporations know our concerns? Perhaps a letter or note to the CEO or marketing department. Maybe we turn our gift giving on it’s head and consider gifts that are not things, but rather experiences (think theatre, ballet, etc – supporting the arts with our dollars and getting a fun experience in the meantime). Donations to charities or even charitable gift cards like TisBest philanthropy, maybe we want to make all of our gifts this year or buy from local vendors, crafts events or how about we at least consider supporting Small Business Saturday so our dollars will help local business owners in your own community rather than the megabox stores.

I for one will not be shopping today on Black Friday. I am joining the Boycott Black Friday club. I don’t want to condone or support these big businesses and their manipulation of our family time, customs and holidays. Instead I intend to use Black Friday as a day for exercise, a movie or more time with family and friends celebrating what’s truly important in life… our relationships with other people not more stuff.

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