“Giving Thanks”: Choose Thanksgiving Over Black Friday


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Millions of Americans across the country will be faced with the dilemma of either choosing Thanksgiving or Black Friday.

By Rachel Lichtenwalner, Cambridge High School

Grandma’s tangy cranberry sauce, limp green beans, hot rolls, dry turkey slathered with gravy and your extended family all fighting to get to the front of the line – you know, the annual meal. Or at least that’s mine.

To me, Thanksgiving is a beautiful time to rejoice all I’ve been given throughout my life. It’s also a time I don’t regret over-eating and shoving three slices of pumpkin pie down my throat.

Unfortunately, this fun time of feasting with your family has slowly begun to be rejected. 

Lots of stores such as Best Buy, Target and Macy’s will open their doors to Black Friday shoppers on Thanksgiving day and entice them with offers they can’t refuse.

Even worse, most opening times are around 5 pm or 6 pm, right when families will start sitting down at the dinner table.

According to business news channel CNBC, this is a trend that first started in 2010 with Sears opening on Thanksgiving Day and other retailers continuing to do so in the following years.  

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are days that should be centered around family and friends and not spent shopping as society has pushed upon us in recent years.

There are too many Thanksgiving memories to miss out on and be able to recreate later on with the same magic or appeal.

For my family and many others, it’s tradition to watch the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade on Thanksgiving morning on NBC. So many emotions arise while witnessing the event from the couch.

First, I’m completely jealous of all the lucky people who get to be there observing the parade first-hand. But then excitement runs through me as I watch singers, dancers and actors march through the streets of the city I so long to visit.

Yet, of course, the best part of Thanksgiving is loading up your plate multiple times and not caring the slightest.

The cornbread emits a heavenly aroma. The soft carrots are cooked to perfection and hidden in a mix of steamed vegetables. And the star of the show, the roasted turkey, begs to be cut open.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

This year, I’m actually considering wearing sweatpants to the family feast, just because I know my stomach will inflate like the Pillsbury Doughboy balloon.

Another tradition that I can’t imagine missing out on is giving thanks.

Whoever I’m seated with, I make us all go around and tell each other what we’re grateful for. Some relatives think it’s cheesy, but I think it’s a nice opportunity to share with each other.

It’s an indescribable feeling just looking around the table and listening to all the things to be thankful for in life.

Quite frankly, shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday removes you from all of this joy and happiness. It’s not the same as carrying out wonderful, cherished traditions or spending time with family and friends.

“It’s way too chaotic [to shop on Thanksgiving day],” said freshman Emma Paskins.

Ads and posters plastered everywhere lure you in the shops, and next thing you know, you’re trapped, purchasing items that weren’t even on your list.

I personally think Black Friday shopping has become like an Olympic sport, actually. I mean there are those people who wake up before the crack of dawn, thrive on caffeinated drinks to get them through the shopping extravaganza and then come home at 10 pm.

Not to mention the competition! I’ve seen buyers screech at each other, battling over some worthless product.

Media Specialist Laura Morgan– who admits to doing some Pre Black Friday shopping online– said that Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving day has become concerning.

“It’s unfortunate,” she said.

In addition to all of this, one must not forget about the employees who have to work on these days and miss out on their own Thanksgiving dinner with their families and friends. 

According to a national online survey conducted by employment website CareerBuilder from Aug 11 to Sept 7, 2016, more than one in five workers said they had to work on Thanksgiving. That’s 22 percent of the 3,300 workers who participated in the survey.

That same survey also had 91 percent of participants say that they would rather spend Thanksgiving with family than co-workers.

This survey paints a bigger picture on why these employees may lose it with cranky customers with the first hour of Black Friday.

All hope is not lost though, as the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that 75 stores and counting– a record number– have confirmed that they will be closed on Thanksgiving Day this year, demonstrating that society is starting to realize that shopping and working on Thanksgiving isn’t just cool anymore.

So in the end, sure, deducted prices on everything from your favorite store is amazing, but isn’t celebrating a week off from school with your favorite people even better than that?

As I’m finishing this article, I’m thinking about how much more Thanksgiving means to me. Usually, when November hits, I’m already listening to Christmas music.

Now, I have a new perspective as my Thanksgiving memories have given me a new love for this holiday.

In the past, I was only excited for Thanksgiving when the day arrived. Now I feel that excitement coming to me at an earlier time.

On Thanksgiving day and Black Friday, as tempting as it may be, I won’t go to HomeGoods and Michael’s.  I’ll stay home and bask in the loving company of my friends and family.

So stay at the table, enjoy your sweet potatoes and give thanks for what you have. Don’t let material items get in the way of what really matters.

This story was originally published on The Bear Witness on November 16, 2018.