This Thanksgiving, millions of people will trade in their family meals and roasted turkeys for long mall lines and half-off HD flat screens. Since shopping-center giants like Walmart, Best Buy and Macy’s have decided to open their doors on the day of Thanksgiving, they have begun to undermine the spirit of family-centric holiday. As its name suggests, Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude; it is a time to give thanks for family, health, and life in general. Black Friday contradicts these values by promoting greed and the desire for material luxuries. At the same time, Black Friday essentially disregards Thanksgiving by turning it into a commercialized, business venture. Thereby, many workers must forfeit their holiday time to work during long and unreasonable Black Friday hours.
Black Friday is incredibly ironic, as millions of Americans camp out in the cold, fight over TVs, and negate family time just hours after giving thanks for everything they already have. This new obsession with Black Friday shopping signifies a shift into a culture that values material wealth over spending time with loved ones. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a day of reflection in which people are grateful for all that they have. However, Black Friday has allowed society to ignore this as individuals become obsessed with obtaining the latest gadgets and toys that they do not need or even truly want. This abundance of store sales ensues disappointing behavior that reveals our growing obsession with personal possessions. People stampede each other, willing to assault and pepper spray their way through the crowds in their desperate pursuit for marked-down sweaters and necklaces.
“Black Friday is a saddening illustration of the American obsession with the materialistic world,” said senior Roxanne Keramati. “We want what we don’t have, all the time.”
The proliferation of businesses and the rapid growth of our consumer society have led to an over-commercialization of the holiday seasons. In recent years, Thanksgiving has become second rate to Black Friday. For many families, Thanksgiving has become a pre-Black Friday holiday devoted to mapping out shopping routes and making organized schedules for which stores to hit first. By drawing individuals out to shopping centers with “unbeatable savings”, businesses encourage this behavior of disregarding Thanksgiving. Many families ditch their home-cooked meals in favor of eating takeout while camping out in front of mall doors. With each new year, Thanksgiving is becoming victim to over-commercialization—switching from a meaningful time of thanks and family to a day dedicated to merchandise and profit.
The early openings of these stores also disgruntle and take advantage of many employees. While some stores claim that employees working on Thanksgiving Day have volunteered to work, this is not always the case. Inevitably, there will be stores where individuals are forced to work because all others have chosen not to. Additionally, some workers who are in financially insecure situations are caught in a dilemma. Some employees would have to choose essential income over their one day with their families. Corporations should not ask employees to sacrifice one of their only holidays to go to work.
Black Friday has shown that with current societal standards, people cannot even dedicate a single day to appreciate what they already have without immediately buying more. Families have lost sight of what is truly important in life, and have found reason in debating between a low cost HD television and an appreciation for what they already have. This Thanksgiving, people must remember where the true value lies—at home not the mall.