Holidays and Hostility

On the night of Thanksgiving, millions of Americans left their families at the dinner table and scrambled to the nearest retail store, putting up tents to stake their claims as first in line on Black Friday morning. Crazed holiday shoppers stampeded into stores, fighting for flat-screen televisions and trendy clothing, relentlessly pushing and shoving each other to get the on-sale goods. Policemen were forced to take time off during their Thanksgiving weekends to quell the flood of shoppers. For the families who spend great amounts of money shopping on Black Friday, obsession over the sales not only sways the focus away from the true spirit of Thanksgiving, but also places pressure on working-class families.

I, too, participated in Black Friday this year, hoping to come across great deals and limited-time offers. Determined to get to the stores as fast as I could and find the deals before the crowds came, I accordingly spent more time at the mall than I did at the dinner table. Was leaving a family Thanksgiving meal early to shop worth it?

It is a great disappointment that on this holiday, we no longer prioritize gathering together with our families to give thanks. Instead of reflecting upon the things we are thankful for and bonding with extended family members, we rush to finish our family dinners and leave our homes to prepare for the Black Friday sales to come. We focus our attention on attaining material objects, drooling over the thoughts of buying a television at 70 percent off the original price. The sales detract from the true purpose of Thanksgiving: being thankful for what we have.

Overexcited consumer spirits force pressure upon businesses to offer larger sales, stay open longer and keep more employees working on Thanksgiving weekend. Businesses are opening earlier and earlier, and increasingly requiring employees to work these hours on this national holiday and surrender precious time with close family and friends.

To counter the negative effects of chaotic Black Friday sales, more businesses have been moving their discounts online. Online shopping lessens the congestion in stores, prevents injuries, preserves holiday time for employees and reminds people to spend time with loved ones on Thanksgiving. We now have the opportunity to use the technology which already dominates our lives to bring safe and positive change to our communities.

But most importantly, we must challenge our own consumeristic and oftentimes greedy mindset of wanting more and more goods we do not necessarily need. We must remember and reflect on the true meaning of Thanksgiving and regard Black Friday as merely an afterthought. The next time you drive away from your family to take advantage of a store’s special Black Friday sales, put yourself in the shoes of the store’s employees who had no choice but to remain away from their families. Consider the needs of others before frantically snatching the last phone or appliance away. Black Friday causes far too much harm to both ourselves and our community to ignore any longer.