For the love of giving thanks

December 11th, 2013

I consider myself a pretty easy-going person, and there are not a lot of things that really get under my skin. However, there is a special holiday coming up, and with that special holiday comes another special day in which dreams come true for thousands of Americans. Those dreams mainly consist of buying beautiful new televisions and iPhones and LEGO sets and any other unnecessary products that the heart may desire at slightly lower prices.

For most Americans, Black Friday is almost as special of a holiday as Thanksgiving. However, the two days could not be more contradictory, and personally, I would feel much prouder to call myself an American if Black Friday was done away with completely. The reason for this is simple – Black Friday is purely fueled by greed, and this greed will ultimately be the destruction of all that is good in our society.

I currently work at Papyrus, which is a card store in Beachwood Mall. A couple of weeks ago, we received a memo at work that several of our locations throughout the nation will be opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening. Employees who are scheduled to work that night will not be permitted to request off, except in dire circumstances. I literally felt sick after I read that memo. All I could think was, “Are you flipping kidding me?!” I could not, and still can’t, believe that our nation’s obsession with consumerism has escalated to the point that we are now encroaching upon the holiday in which we are supposed to be thankful for what we already have. Have we really forgotten why we celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place?

I find it horrifying that there are millions of Americans currently starving and many even living on the streets, and instead of spending their time and money on helping them, or even spending time with their families just being grateful that they aren’t in a similar situation, countless numbers of people choose to flood stores and trample each other to death to spend ridiculous amounts of money mostly on luxury items. Now, I love sales as much as the next person, and I certainly am not knocking on people who want to take advantage of a day of sales to get started on their Christmas shopping. However, standing in line at 8 a.m. on Friday morning is a whole different story from lining storefronts at 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings. Most people who work in retail accept that they will be working on Black Friday when they take the job. It is disgusting, though, that some people are so selfish that they are willing to force employees to take time away from their families on Thanksgiving to go to work and sell people something they probably don’t really need.

This country was not founded on consumerism. When the first Thanksgiving was celebrated, our ancestors were not concerned with possessing material things. Instead, they spent an entire three days giving thanks that they had survived and had a place to live freely and food to fill their stomachs. Now, I guarantee at least one person who is reading this column right now is thinking, “Oh, Grace, you ignorant girl, don’t you know what those pilgrims did to the natives when they settled here?” Yes, I do know what happened, and I am not excusing it. However, those events do not change what the pilgrims and Native Americans had in mind when they celebrated the first Thanksgiving, which was simply being grateful for God’s blessings.

Here is the bottom line – most people who go shopping on Black Friday probably already have many, many things to be thankful for, and it is high time for those people and everyone else for that matter, to take more time to appreciate all of the ways in which they’ve been blessed.

So, if you are one of those people who plan to be banging on the doors of Walmart on Thanksgiving evening, I challenge you to take a good, hard look at yourself and consider what you are doing to those employees as opposed to what you could be doing with your family and all the things that you already have. Maybe, just maybe, you could consider donating your resources to helping those who don’t have enough money to even feed themselves, let alone buy toys and electronics. And, maybe we can restore the meaning of Thanksgiving to its former glory.