You can shop on Thanksgiving … yes, I said it!

To shop or not to shop on Thanksgiving … that seems to be much the debate nowadays.

Historically Thanksgiving has been a day set aside that we celebrate and give thanks for all that we have.  It has been a day that most businesses close down and everyone celebrates with family.  There are however exceptions.  Grocery stores have commonly been open on the holidays even if on an abbreviated schedule … I think we all have taken advantage of being able to run to the store and get that last minute egg nog or cranberries that we forgot as we frantically prepare our family feasts.  Obviously we know that people that save lives often work holidays … a heart attack , a car wreck  or a house fire does not take a break simply because it is a holiday. I think it is safe to assume that we all understand that there are some services that are needed and can’t  “close down” simply because it is a holiday.  These families historically have had to give up family time on holidays because it was just part of their job.  I know what that is like because I was one of these families.  I grew up in a family that worked retail in a grocery store so I have first hand experience of having parents that had to work holidays.  I also know my parents had the opportunity to make extra money if they worked holidays.  I am sure since we were a blue collar working class family that lived pay check to pay check , having that opportunity was seen as a blessing but yes, at the expense of time with family … which no amount of money could really ever make up for.

With that said, a lot of these families because this has been a part of their lives have had to live with it … especially if they wanted to keep their jobs.  They still might celebrate Thanksgiving but it just may look different and not be in the same package as yours.  They sacrifice ,make changes, and adapt.  My family did that.

Fast forward now to Black Friday which has come into the picture.  The services we are talking about now are not what we look at as “needs” or essentials but about consuming … about running out to get the latest and greatest at the best price possible.   It was fun when it all started but now it is seeping into Thanksgiving Day …. our one day we set aside each year to be about nothing but food, family, and thanks.  So it represents the loss of family, the loss of gratitude, and replaces our true treasures with “stuff”  … it represents consumerism in it’s finest.  We are not happy about this as is well understood.

Are there people out there who need the work and will make extra money?  Absolutely.  Are their families out there that may not be able to take advantage of sales and get things they might actually need? Absolutely.  Or how about families that will be able to get their kids some Christmas presents they may not be able to afford otherwise? I am sure, absolutely.  In other words, is everyone who partakes in shopping on Thanksgiving Day committing an immoral act and choosing to be a consumer rather than spending time with family … I think we have to be careful on making that call.  Can we look at OURSELVES and ask “Am I being  a consumer and putting stuff over spending quality time with my family and giving thanks for all that I have ?”  Absolutely.  We can not judge or make assumptions about what is going on in someone else’s life … we can and should absolutely ponder the issue for ourselves. Making the call for someone else is ultimately being a Pharisee and I don’t think any of us really want to be a part of that camp.

It is not a cut and dry issue … but I think it is fair to say at the very least we should all consider if we want to be a part of it or not.  Pray on it and see what God convicts you of.  

I think it is also fair to say we should do this always not just for Thanksgiving but maybe even every purchase we make and how we spend our money throughout the year … do we really “need” it or are we just filling that consumer in us?  Consumerism exists all year round.

 I have personally chose not to partake in the shopping on Thanksgiving but not because I am better than someone who does or has a higher sense of morality than my neighbor who might.  I am blessed that I don’t have to work on this holiday or any other and make that sacrifice . I am also blessed that my family has what it  needs so I don’t need to run out to get something  that we otherwise could not afford.  I know what it is like to have family working on holidays and although it would be worse to not have a job … for my own convictions and reasons I just don’t want to be a part of contributing to that.

But if you are out and about Thanksgiving day and you come across someone who is working … be sure to extend some thanks to them … thank them for their services and their sacrifice … let them know you appreciate them.  A lot of them have kids at home who might be without mom and dad for the holiday.   If your neighbor has to work … tell them thank you and you know what they have to give up … maybe see if there is something you can do to help them … invite them over so they don’t have to cook … something.  Make a difference somehow.

Everyday should be a day of thanks.  Just to live in this country and have what we have  – we have so much to be thankful for on so many levels.  It is nice to have a special day to set aside and celebrate just like we do birthdays and anniversaries and what not but Thanksgiving should not be just a holiday but an attitude that lives in our hearts.  I think when we come from a place of  true thanks ultimately we allow room for grace … grace not to judge what our neighbor might be doing Thanksgiving Day.

Happy Thanksgiving!




2 thoughts on “You can shop on Thanksgiving … yes, I said it!

  1. My wife and daughter will likely have to work on Thanksgiving – Maya works retail, Cherie works in a hospital. Not the best of things, but that’s how it is these days. That said, I worked in grocery stores in the mid 1980s, and all of our stores, even the 24/7 stores, were closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. When I was a kid, the only stores open on Thanksgiving were 7eleven and gas stations. You wanted something they didn’t carry? Plan ahead or do without, or be really good friends with neighbors and borrow. I remember the first store being open partial hours on Thanksgiving day here in Reno (it was Albertson’s), and thought it was a shame to do that to the employees. You can bet the corporate management are all off celebrating with their families.

    Black Friday became a tradition for stores a few years ago. Great sales to kick off the Christmas shopping season. HUGE profits for stores, great commissions for employees in places that had commission (like Circuit City). And everybody got to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families. Now, the greed of the stores, having to get the first sale, has moved it beyond Black Friday and all the way to dinner time on Thanksgiving – the time when even those grocery stores which were open for limited hours closed so families could be together.

    A huge issue to me is also the fact that Thanksgiving is not just families getting together and celebrating/remembering what they have to be thankful for – it is about extended families getting together. Impossible now, when people have to work the holiday. The day before Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest air travel day of the year – I think that may be declining due to the “black Thursday” craze. Next, we will start seeing these same stores opening on Christmas. Where does it end? As a consumer, I do not think it is okay to shop on Thanksgiving, other than online.

    If we as consumers don’t make it profitable for the stores to be open, they will go back to Friday. It truly is as simple as that. But the downside is all the best deals are now at 6pm on Thanksgiving. So unless they offer it online, the only way to get the great deals (and for some, the all-important more affordable Christmas gifts) is to go on Thanksgiving. Sad.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Matt. All very good points, for sure. Funny … my parents worked for Albertson’s … so yes, I am very familiar with having folks that had to work holidays. Blessings to you and yours , hope you find some time somehow to celebrate Thanksgiving … sorry Maya and Cherie have to work … I know that is hard. Big hugs to you guys from CT , we love you!

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