Yesterday we were thankful for what we had. Today, we want more.
What a strange 48 hours.
Such is the duality of Thanksgiving weekend, when one minute we’re humble and reflective about how good we have it and the next we’re locking horns with our neighbors in a competition to acquire more, but pay less for it.
This year, sleep-deprived shoppers didn’t even have to wait until this morning, as several major retailers opened their doors last night so shopping-obsessed Americans could get an even bigger jump-start on their buying blitz. (It’s not like those tortured folks working in retail have family they want to spend the holiday with or anything.)
To the extent that Thanksgiving – arguably the most secular of all major American holidays – has any sanctity, it’s being irreverently obscured by capitalism’s three-ring circus.
Many will argue that Black Friday is good for America and retail-rich towns like Dover – although most of those folks are still at the mall and haven’t read this piece quite yet.
I suppose if we measure things in dollars, they have a point.
For many businesses, a successful holiday shopping season makes their year (and so it follows, a successful Black Friday makes their holiday shopping season). Even the most miserly and least-commercially inclined among us would agree that communities are better when its businesses are strong and viable.
But what if that were possible without the presence of an army of consumerism in lock step, invading mall parking lots before dawn on the same day every year? Why do a free people allow something as individualized as shopping to become so compulsory?
If the month-long holiday shopping season remained without it’s zany launch party on the first day, would people really buy less for the friends and family?
Sometimes our actions speak to who we are in ways we don’t consider. Racing another person to the front of a line or shoving them out of the way to beat them to a shelf doesn’t make you a smart shopper – it makes you a selfish person who puts a getting a good deal ahead of everything else.
So if you’re reading this with your morning cup of coffee today, spend a little more time reflecting on what you’re thankful for. After all, there’s always Small Business Saturday tomorrow!