posted 2012-12-18 18:59:48

Beware Black Friday

The meaning of Thanksgiving muddled by consumerism 

Melissa Nezhnick

Staff Writer

By the time you read this, the leftovers will have long all been eaten and the Black Friday treasures you coveted will have long been thrown into the glorified junk pile. The extended family will have already departed and you will have finally settled back into your old routine, forgetting about Thanksgiving and all the cheesy Facebook posts that came along with it. You have all but forgotten the sensation of sitting at the table, surrounded by family, spewing forth details of your personal life to people you only see on Thanksgiving. There also must have been a moment when someone, humorlessly, asked you, “What are you thankful for?” What did you say? You probably rattled off the fundamentals—family, friends, health, education and so forth—or were too busy texting away to give a real answer. However, during the night, few stopped to think about what Thanksgiving is really supposed to be. Did our forefathers envision us stuffing ourselves silly with pounds of food and partaking in a mad dash for desired products the next day?

Was the holiday first created with the thought of big businesses reaping profit? Usually, the day before Thanksgiving, people are rushing about buying pounds and pounds of food in gluttonous proportions. Then the next day people are willing to trample one another to buy more products, but this time for lower prices. And you know what, companies are more than willing to provide such accommodations. Workers are forced to work 12-hour-long shifts, if not longer, in order to provide for the frenzied shopper. However, almost none of the workers see any type of pay change, extra benefits or compensation for their extra time. Wal-Mart alone had over 100 strikes on Black Friday regarding labor rights. That did not, however, deter customers. The workers weren’t able to go home and spend time with their families, because Wal- Mart went so far as to open its doors on 8 pm on Thanksgiving evening. So it must be asked, is a sale more important than spending time with the people you love? Well, companies certainly seem to think so. They didn’t even wait for Black Friday itself, and many other stores have done the same. Likewise, sales have continued through the following week.

Thanksgiving is rapidly becoming commercialized. What better way is there to show just how thankful you are than by trampling over people just like you? When Thanksgiving was first celebrated, in 1621, it was definitely for the low prices that mega-chains like Wal-Mart and Best Buy were offering, right? When the Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower, in order to escape religious persecution by England, they were looking for a place to practice their own beliefs and buy discounted HDTVs. After a hostile meeting by the Indians in the area of Plymouth, the Pilgrims moved up the coast alongside Cape Cod, and it was here where they were met with friendlier beings. An Indian tribe, the Wampanoag, taught the inexperienced Pilgrims how to plant, fish, properly use fertilizer and hunt for good deals on electronics; only through their help did the colony survive. 1621 was the first successful harvest, so to celebrate their survival, the colonists created a feast, full of the food they worked so hard for and invited the Wampanoag to show their gratitude.

Today, it is rather rare to find someone who actually understands the true meaning of Thanksgiving, and if people don’t realize that they’re losing the meaning of such an important holiday, then that just speaks to our culture. Today, it’s just another need that’s being satisfied: a need for food to be stuffed into more food and for products to be on sale. When we say “thanks” today, are we showing our gratitude that we were able to get into the store just when there was one lone turkey left to be bought? No; instead, Thanksgiving is a time of truly appreciating what we have accomplished, with or without help from others. And even on Thanksgiving, there are still people who grumble and complain, the people who see “no point” in the holiday. Have we become so spoiled as to completely lose our ability to truly appreciate anything? That’s something for you to decide, but the companies, which are partaking in such events such as Black Friday, most definitely don’t want you to ask those questions. The meaning of Thanksgiving has become muddled by sales pitches and bargains. Thanksgiving is a time in which to give thanks for what we have, not a time to call for more. Hey, at least we have the December holidays to look forward to, in which we don’t celebrate consumerism at all—right?