Thanksgiving is on the endangered holiday list. It’s been steamrolled by Halloween, and now it’s merely a day of carbo-loading for a glitzier American affair—Black Friday. But leftover Puritan era laws might save the fading Puritan era holiday.
Yesterday the Boston Globe reported that a 17th century Blue Law in Massachusetts, which states that stores can’t open before midnight on Thanksgiving without a permit, are disrupting retailer’s plans. Stores that already announced midnight openings like Target, Walmart and Macy’s have had to adjust their hours. But the real story isn’t about Blue Laws interfering with holiday shopping, it’s about shopping interfering with the holidays.
Instead of families sitting around the Thanksgiving Day table sharing what they’re thankful for, they’re plotting a Black Friday plan of attack:
VIP mall parking? Check.
Coach bus tickets to the outlets? Check.
Team assembled to storm Best Buy for a $299 laptop? Check.
High on manufactured cheer and credit card debt, we’ve let retailers transform the national day of thanks into a prelude for something that’s quite the opposite:
Thanksgiving: Giving thanks for what you have
Black Friday: Buying things you don’t need
And what about the people who work on Black Friday—the modern day Bob Cratchits of the United States? Everyone who stocks, scans, and bags Black Friday goods before the sun comes up has their Thanksgiving cut short.
It’s especially lousy for moms who work retail. On Thanksgiving morning they’re the first to get up to put the turkey in the oven, cook all day, serve a meal, clean up, and then run to work for the craziest shopping day of the year. (And because Black Friday isn’t a real holiday, they probably won’t be paid time and a half.) Mommy will work like a dog for two days straight so that Americans can fight over limited quantity door busters, and retail big wigs can squeeze out as much profit as possible.
Instead of repealing the Blue Laws we should make them stricter. Who really needs to start holiday shopping before five am? It’s not worth sacrificing the little family time we have left to help push retailers into the black. What a conscience that our forefathers gave Massachusetts, the state that founded Thanksgiving, a little blue reminder about the true meaning of the holiday.