No more sales

Scrolling through social media these days, you’re about 10 times more likely to see an ad for some so-called “Black Friday Deals” than you are to see a post about Thanksgiving. You’re more likely to see a story about Black Friday economic outlooks than to see a recipe for the perfect green bean casserole. In the national consciousness, Black Friday has overshadowed Thanksgiving.

This isn’t to say we think Thanksgiving is a great holiday. Narratives depicting cozy relations between early European settlers and the peoples they were soon to start genociding are problematic at best. We’re not crazy about parades, even when they don’t have a corporate sponsor. And we certainly don’t need another excuse to overeat or watch football.

Still, it’s nice to have a day off specifically dedicated to spending time with family and friends. It’s great to get together with far-flung family or have a solid pretense to call an estranged relative or even just send a text or two to old friends.

And that’s another problem with Black Friday: It means that folks with retail jobs almost always have to work on Thanksgiving. Either they have to work during the day, stocking shelves to prepare for the onslaught, or they have to leave Thanksgiving celebrations early in order to get to a shift that starts in the middle of the night, ready to face the many ravenous, misguided souls who spend their Thanksgiving evenings camped outside of stores, waiting to trample their way to some prized package of useless crap.

Of course, commercialization of holidays has been a problem since at least the Norman Conquest. Early Christians were fond of usurping pagan holidays, which were connected to the actual seasons of the planet, and replacing them with holidays based in Christian traditions. Samhain, the fall festival holiday, became All Saint’s Day, which was soon supplanted by Halloween. Winter solstice celebrations morphed into Christmas, vernal equinox celebrations became Easter, and summer solstice celebrations became … the Fourth of July?

Still, Black Friday is the worst because commercialization is all it is. The whole point is buying stuff not because it’s something we need or even want, but just because it’s a “good deal.” In recent years, one reaction against Black Friday has been Buy Nothing Day, and we’re all for that, but we’d like to add some nuance: Whenever you do decide to do your shopping, support locally owned stores, and support stores that routinely have low prices and don’t mess around with “sales” all the time. We can’t imagine a more egregious waste of consciousness than monitoring the ever-changing prices of home electronics. Life is hard enough already without having to read emails from chain stores.