I love Christmas. I like finding gifts for my family, catering presents to their hobbies and personalities, to our inside jokes and connections. But I have to admit that I dislike Christmas shopping. Crowds. Tons of merchandise no one needs. People buying stuff they can't afford. Children screaming--more than usual anyway.
A few years ago, Tracy and I stayed up and decided to go to Walmart to witness our first Black Friday. In the past, we have gone shopping later in the afternoon on Black Friday, well after the rush, and found some items we wanted. But we wanted to see what we had heard about on the news: the mass of humanity in a whirlwind of chaos and greed. Although we did not witness a trampling, we saw people who had three or more TVs stacked in their carts with another cart full of toys. We saw the lines circle completely around the store. In all honesty, my stomach churned. Didn't we just spend a day being grateful for what we have? Now we're stocking up to get more stuff.
I'm sure everyone has heard the news that Walmart will open its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, which shocked me. Even more alarming, Kmart will open its deal-busting doors at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving! Before we can even put the turkey in the oven (much less take it out and eat it), play turkey bowl, watch the parade, count our blessings, or even wish family Happy Thanksgiving, some of us are out anxiously shopping and pushing for deals in store lines, convinced that this stuff will make our holidays meaningful.
Although some companies attribute their early opening to a Christmas season six days shorter this year, I would argue that businesses already start the commercial Christmas season before Halloween. Commercials play jingly tunes before we've carved a pumpkin. Christmas products, decorations, and specialty items crowd the stores well before the spooky costumes leave the shelves. So why do Christmas deals have to occur only on one occasion, Black Friday? Why not have a Black Saturday (or whatever color you'd like to put with it) the Saturday before Thanksgiving? Then wait and have more crazy sales on Black Friday.Why not sprinkle the crazy deals from October through December?
The Huffington Post posted an article
a few days ago that made me want to hug some business executives--or at least
give them a friendly high five--for the first time ever. Some companies
stand for preserving Thanksgiving for the holiday that it should be. I hope that their integrity will be rewarded with increase sales as well as warm fuzzies from doing the right thing.
According to the Huffington Post article, some shoppers have started petitions, which I wouldn't not sign (for the double negative impaired, this means I would sign it), but I think what would send a clearer message to companies is simply not shopping until Black Friday really starts--on Friday. You may miss some deals. You may even have fewer gifts. But there comes a time when you have to decide: what are you willing to spend your holiday time with? Family or things? People or prices?
When I think back on Christmases and Thanksgivings past, I remember some significant gifts, some significant objects or things. But more than that, I remember moments, traditions, time spent with my parents, siblings, and friends that no door-busting deal on a cell phone can replace. I hope people realize that by saving Thanksgiving for family and reflection, we save what truly makes this time of year special.