Meaning of Thanksgiving lost among Black Friday sales pitches
The Kansas City Star
A year ago I was able to go to first grade classrooms and experience children learning about pilgrims and Indians, turkey and pumpkins.
I could stand outside their classrooms and read their reasons for giving thanks – for moms and dads, houses and pets. Their words were not perfectly formed and sometimes I had to ponder their spelling, but their thoughts were sincere and simple.
I did not understand then how much I appreciated the reminders their lessons provided on the reasons we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
This year I am troubled by a conflict of growing proportions. Instead of having first graders to remind me of the origin of Thanksgiving, I have flyers alerting me of huge sales and price reductions.
I am bombarded with Black Friday reminders and tempting come-ons about “the best prices of the season.”
It seems that the day after Thanksgiving has become something of a moving target. Stores have been changing their opening hours, responding to their competitors, and teasing consumers with emails and ads.
Black Friday is not necessarily an event – it is a growing season. It has invaded Thanksgiving with little care and no boundaries.
It seems rather odd to me that we want our children to know why we stop for a day and offer thanks for our blessings while we plan to camp out in line so we can shove, elbow, and out maneuver other bargain hunters.
We may be after a huge screen television advertised for drastically low prices, but there may only be four available. Surely, being the 71st person in line rules us out of luck, but wait, they are going to open at midnight. Maybe the chances have improved.
So now the strategy is to plot the times the stores open, list the items wanted at each store (including price), plan the route inside each store, have a driver ready to load at the curb, and goose your way to the next store opening. Repeat as necessary.
I understand that the retailers need Black Friday. I know the economy has been too bad for too long. I have heard the reports that this weekend may make or break some stores’ years. I also know that moms and dads everywhere are afraid they won’t be able to get those special Christmas gifts if they don’t execute the Black Friday plan perfectly. I get it.
But, really I think I will take a deep breath, close my eyes, and go back to the writing of those first graders. Why are they thankful for the same things every year?
Mark Lewis is a retired school administrator living in Liberty, Mo.