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Poor Thanksgiving. We hardly knew ye.
I remember the first year that my mother and grandmother prepared for Black Friday on Thanksgiving evening. Keep in mind that this is back in the day when The Junction was the Ogden Mall. That’s where they were going. They wanted to wake up at 4 in the morning to wait in a line (for a VCR or something crazy and outdated now, I’m sure). She did it for my siblings and me because it was important to her that we have a special Christmas morning and save a couple bucks in the process.
This was when the Black Friday trend was just taking off. This was back when we would go all out for Thanksgiving. It was important that everyone got together at my grandmother’s, brought a dish and caught up with those aunts, uncles and cousins who we hadn’t seen since last holiday season.
Now, it almost seems as if the importance has reversed. Stores begin busting out the Black Friday ads weeks ahead. The winter holiday decorations are in stores the day after Halloween, and Thanksgiving has become Christmas’ weird cousin. Every year, we as a society are inundated by the “holiday season.” Instead of focusing in on the specific holidays, we’ve now got this commercialized amalgamation of all winter holidays.
We see it every year, the stores vamping up the advertisements and sales to attract the Black Friday crowd. Thanksgiving and Black Friday have almost become synonymous. On Thursday, we reflect on the people we love and what we are so fortunate to have. On Friday, we trample each other to get a television that is the size of the sun for 60 percent off.
I don’t think everyone has completely forgotten about Thanksgiving, though. From what I’ve seen on social media, a lot of people are making a daily post about the things they are grateful for. I think that’s encouraging and, for the most part, redeeming.
I think, for many people, the holiday season is overwhelmingly about being kind to others, helping each other and being grateful for what we have. The Black Friday mentality stems from the same reason that my mom woke up all those years ago. People want to do something nice for someone they love. They are waiting in these horrendous lines to buy a gift for someone they love to make the holiday special. Sure, it’s a bit convoluted, but perhaps it does come a little bit from a good place. Maybe I’m stupidly optimistic.
When you sit down to your Thanksgiving celebration this year, try to ignore the fact that people are waylaying theirs to stand in line at Best Buy to fight their neighbor for a camcorder (do people still use camcorders?). Try to savor your Thanksgiving this year. Don’t focus too much on the stuff, but on the ideas and the people who make your life whole. Call the people who you are missing, think on what you’re truly thankful for, and maybe try to let that spirit ride until winter holidays. Maybe even past that.
If you happen to be that person waiting in line for something after your meal, please be careful of where you’re stepping (or who you’re stepping on).