Black Friday used to be a “day.” It was the Friday following Thanksgiving where stores would offer deep discounts to lure in holiday shoppers. In the last couple of years, though, the line between Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday has blurred. In fact, it’s not there anymore. The Black Friday creep has encroached on the holiday itself. This did not come without controversy, however. There has been a bit of a backlash. Voices of dissent have strongly opposed stores luring shoppers away from their families on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is, of course, deeply rooted in American traditions, and this just seemed to carve them apart.
So many people are aghast that stores would actually be open on the holiday and that they would fervently entice folks to leave their families to cash in on a few sales. These traditionalists seem to claim Christmas has been lost to capitalism and commercialism, and they want to stave off Thanksgiving from roasting in the same fate. I have to agree, too, it does feel somewhat wrong.
However, we have to understand that not everyone is feasting with family on Thanksgiving. For those not with friends or family, a holiday can be a powerfully lonely day. When the world, including McDonald’s, shutters around you, you can feel confined and isolated at home. That image of the whole world gathered around a warm fireplace eating turkey and drinking wine while guffawing at dad’s corny jokes can be a haunting reminder of what you don’t have.
Enter suddenly the idea that the world is not shuttered. Because of the Black Friday creep, Target or Carson’s will take you in with open arms. You can blend in with others and not feel so isolated or lonely. You are no longer detached and banished to an island of one. You have choices. You can choose to stay home or you could go out and meander through the malls. For some, a choice like this could quite possibly be powerfully freeing.
Now, some will still squabble it’s not fair to make the workers leave their families to work an early Black Friday Thanksgiving Day sale. While true for some, again, I suppose there are workers who would rather join the mix than stay home alone or be forced to spend time in a dysfunctional environment. Plus, there may be some workers who could use the extra holiday pay to be able to buy a desired Christmas gift for a child or a loved one.
The traditionalists’ hearts are in the right places. Holidays should be about spending time with family. However, not every family mirrors the Rockwell image. So, condemning the stores who “creep” in the name of corporate greed may be a bit unfair. I suppose ultimately they may be driven by bottom lines, but I think they serve a purpose many are unaware of, as well.
Let’s just remember that having a choice is powerful. If you have a family gathering, then bask in the warmth of the gifts that you have. If you prefer to spend time feeling less alone in a crowd, then let the Black Friday creep serve as your companion. Holidays are sometimes hard. The reasons they are difficult are just as different as people themselves. Sometimes it’s just nice to have options.
So, whatever you choose to do, I hope it brings you feelings of happiness and gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!