What is Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is an American holiday meant for people to gather together and celebrate all the things they are grateful for. It is a holiday with a huge historical background that is meant to represent how people should feel thankful for the little things and to remember that they are fortunate to have things that they often forget about. To celebrate it, people gather around and enjoy a marvelous feast that takes 24 hours to prepare for families and friends to appreciate each other and Jesus. Or at least… that’s how it used to be.
I used to work in retail, and it irritated me that stores like Macy’s, Best Buy, and Kohl’s continue to open at an earlier time each year. It took the joy of Thanksgiving away from me. I didn’t feel thankful because I couldn’t spend any much needed time with my family, my friends, or Jesus. Instead, I felt dread knowing that I had to spend such a wonderful holiday dealing with selfish people who want to get the “Sales Before Black Friday” deals first. This tradition out-dates me and I can’t remember a time when people didn’t camp outside of big box retailers waiting for the stores to open up.
As if Black Friday wasn’t enough for people to begin their holiday shopping, the fact that stores open from 3:00pm to midnight on Thanksgiving Day is outrageous. This doesn’t give people enough time to enjoy their turkey, their families, or themselves, especially for people who are scheduled to go to work on this day.
Through the eyes of the employees who are forced to work on these dreadful nights, let me give some insight as to what the day is like to them. Retailers work throughout fall to prepare for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and while both holidays are meant for happiness and joy, the people working it are feeling the exact opposite. Employees clean the dressing rooms where people will throw clothes they don’t want on the floor, leaving the whole place a disaster. It’s their job to put all of the clothes back after the store closes, an arduous and never-ending task. But customers never think about these things. All they care about is if they buy the last Apple Mac Computer when they really should be at home enjoying a nice hot turkey meal with their family much like everyone else who shouldn’t be working on such a thoughtful holiday.
This consumerist fixation detracts from the meaning of the holiday. Thanksgiving is a holiday that dates back to the mid 1600’s in American history. New England colonists were accustomed to celebrating “Thanksgiving” days through prayer and thanking God for military victory or the end of a drought.
It is also said to be the mark of peace between the Plymouth (pilgrims) and the Wamponoag people, and they celebrated harmony by having a feast together. Unfortunately, every year it is less of a day of harmony and more of a day for shopping and people getting arrested because they’re fighting over a TV set that’s on sale.
The whole reason why the retail industry has practically ruined the meaning of Thanksgiving is because of the next upcoming holiday: Christmas Day. People want to get the best deals to shop for their family so that they will have all the gifts under the Christmas tree for their children or their parents. This goes to show that Christmas is slowly losing its real meaning too. Jesus wasn’t brought to us so that people can go shopping. Jesus was brought to us to take away the sins of the world and to help people bring peace into their hearts and souls. The concept of “giving” is a huge part of Christmas, but people seem to forget that Christmas is also a day to spread joy and love and sometimes that’s the best gift someone can give. Instead, people fight over TV sets, iPhones, and electronics when in reality all of that stuff is superficial.
Thanksgiving is not the day to start your Christmas shopping, that’s what Black Friday is for. Thanksgiving is a day to be around family and friends and celebrate with a feast, not shop for a holiday that is a month away. That is not Jesus’ purpose and it also not what He wanted. Jesus wants those to remember what He did and why He did it. God wants people to spread love and happiness during the holiday seasons. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas are meant for those to enjoy each other’s company.
Written by Brittany Cravatta,