Editor’s note: this may contain offensive language to some. – BJ
Black Friday has officially jumped the shark. For those of you who might not be familiar with the phrase, it’s the moment when something that was once popular attempts to maintain or regain that popularity with a grand, attention-getting stunt that ends up failing miserably. It comes from 70s television hit Happy Days. In the show’s waning days, there was an episode where Fonzie, the main character of the show and icon of everything cool back then, jumps over a shark, while on water skis and wearing his leather jacket with a pair of swim trunks.
The show, having hit its creative peak, continued to offer storylines that were more grandiose than previous ones. It was that episode where most of the adults who were still watching Happy Days realized it had become a joke. The show went on for a few more years, but it was never the same. Now it’s Black Friday’s turn.
After consecutive years of businesses opening earlier and earlier, this year a number of stores have decided to open at midnight. The list includes Target, Best Buy, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Macy’s and Kohl’s. Not to be outdone, Wal-Mart will open at 10 p.m., and Toys “R” Us will open at 9 p.m. On Thanksgiving Day! What the fuck!? That means that a shitload of people will have to step away from enjoying time with their families in order to be at work on the most family friendly holiday in the country. That’s a true shame, people.
Every other holiday in this country celebrates either a religious event (Christmas, Easter), a person or group of people (Labor Day, Memorial Day, MLK Day, etc.) or an event. Thanksgiving is the one American holy day that celebrates an action: gratitude—something we can all use more of. Thanksgiving should be sacred. It is sacred! It should be the one holiday that all of us, as Americans, can be free to share with those we love without the stress of having to keep an eye on the clock because we have to show up to some shit job just so people can feed their need to buy more useless shit.
Having worked retail for over twenty years, on & off, I grew to hate Black Friday. While most of my friends and family spent the day sleeping in, hanging out and filling up on leftover turkey, stuffing & pie, I would have to get up early to make sure I could be there for the rush that never came. Sure, the big box stores like Wal-Mart & Target would get hit by a mad crush of zombie shoppers looking for the bargains of a lifetime, at least until the next year’s bargains; but that NEVER translated to more customers for smaller retail operations like the ones I worked for. Whether these poor folks are being forced to work on Thanksgiving, or even volunteered to work, I feel sad for them. It doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. These people should be home being, well, grateful.
Regardless to how bad things are, there’s plenty to be grateful for. For one, you exist. That’s right. You should be grateful to be alive. I have yet to have anyone convince me of what happens after life. I don’t focus on that. I focus on the here & now. If you aren’t thankful that you are living, you need to rethink your priorities. Seriously.
Thanksgiving is the best day to reinforce this with our families and ourselves. We can’t allow a few greedy corporations con us into thinking that it’s okay to preempt this ritual for the sake of getting a jump on our Christmas shopping. I mean, I get it. The competition to get customers in the door is stiff. But if Thanksgiving isn’t holy, what is? If we let them get away with this, than you can OCCUPY anything you want. It won’t matter. Big business has already won the war.
So let them cast their bait as early as they want. We don’t have to eat their fucking chum. I hope those of you reading this will bite back by staying home and counting your blessings with your family & loved ones. If we don’t give these retailers what they want, maybe then they’ll get the message: Don’t fuck with Thanksgiving!