I recently read about a number of stores planning to open on Thanksgiving to give customers a leg-up on their Black Friday shopping. Just the thought disgusted me, but before the disgust passed, I then read about stores like Costco and Nordstrom who are staying closed on Thanksgiving, despite the pressure to open their doors for higher profits. I shared that article on Facebook and, not long after, got this comment from a childhood friend:
"Have not spent a Holiday with my family since I have worked at Walmart. This will be my 13th year. Wish I could have spent thanksgiving and Christmas with my grandmother before she passed away."
My heart broke instantly. You see, Christmas used to be my favorite holiday. We didn’t have much money growing up so the focus was never really on presents and what “cool things” we’d get. Other than my beloved Popple & my Cabbage Patch Kid with the crimp-able hair, my most memorable Christmas present was … cotton! Or, rather, the cotton in the box holding a little pair of earrings. You see what I mean about not having much? Even cotton thrilled me as a child.
When I think of Christmas, my mind flashes to evenings spent decorating a huge (to a child) fresh-off-the-tree-lot Christmas tree after listening to my mom and uncle argue about how exactly that dang tree stand is supposed to work anyway. All of this happening against the backdrop of my grandma’s fancy living room with her antique piano and silk curtains. The room was forbidden any other time of year. But not Christmas.
When I think of Christmas, I think of rebellious little Stephanie sneaking away with her mom’s bumble gum pink boombox to play Christmas Classics on casette.
Feliz navidad. Feliz navidad. Feliz navidad, prospero ano y felizidad...
All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, my two front teeth, my two front teeth…
I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus, underneath the mistletoe last night…
Rockin’ around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop. Mistletoe hung where you can see ev'ry couple tries to stop...
When I think of Christmas, I drift back to lazy afternoons on Christmas break from school when I’d take my library books into the living room, turn on only the Christmas lights, and let the multi-colored glow light the way for my next literary adventure. The scent of fresh pine as I lay near the tree was intoxicating.
As the years went on and I grew older, Christmas seemed to become more and more focused on finding the perfect gift or having the coolest holiday party. Keeping up with the Joneses became Keeping up with the Clauses and the stress and pressure of the season’s required gift-giving can nearly induce a panic attack. The "commercialness" of Christmas had taken over.
So, Thanksgiving rose to the top as Favorite Holiday. How could it not? If I’d had any sense or foresight as a child, it would’ve been in the top spot since the late 80s but, hey, hindsight is 20/20. What matters is that it’s Number 1 now. Numero Uno. The whole point of the day’s existence is to spend time with loved ones and give thanks for all that we already have. Which translates to eating lots of yummy food and watching football all day - how could you not love it?
And Black Friday? Well, Black Friday used to be this fun, quirky thing that some people did Thanksgiving weekend. Not Thanksgiving Day. Not when it means that the employees of those stores -people who most likely need their job and cannot afford to quit- have to abandon their loved ones in order to work on what is arguably the last uncorrupted holiday on our calendar. The irony is, I bet those employees would be even more grateful for their jobs if they had employers who respected their time and recognized that they deserved to be with their families, too.
So, thank you Costco and Nordstrom, and any other stores planning to keep their doors shut on Thanksgiving Day. Thank you for doing your part to save my Favorite Holiday from the pitfalls of our wonderfully glorious nationwide shopping addiction. And thank you for recognizing that not every day of the year has to be about consumerism, especially not the one day we’re meant to be grateful for the bounty we already have.
How do you feel about shopping on Thanksgiving? Will you be staking out your place in line or staying in with loved ones?