Being Thankful on Thanksgiving: The Irony of Black Friday

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By Morgan Hutcheson | mhutcheson@radford.edu

As a study-abroad student, I find that each day here in the United States brings out another puzzling aspect of American culture.

While I warmly embrace the differences in this nation, for better or worse, the irony of Black Friday will forever mystify me. Moreover, I have even come to accept the South’s passion for biscuits and gravy.

Even from being across the pond, a significant day in America’s calendar is Thanksgiving. To my understanding, this is a day to rush home to loved ones and visit family and friends that the year has cruelly left little time for. With, of course, the added incentive of mom’s turkey waiting across the state.

I also acknowledge that Thanksgiving is not all gravy-trains and rainbows, as I have entered into more than a few discussions regarding the controversy of Thanksgiving and the reasons for its celebration.

Despite its’ origins, and I will leave that debate for the dinner table, I believe it’s agreeable to say Thanksgiving is a loving holiday that most look forward to celebrating.

Yet, the next day erupts in materialistic chaos: Black Friday. Here starts the Christmas shopping season and the helpless submission to those all-too-alluring promotional sales.

I pose no opposition to going out early and buying presents for loved ones. I also accept that nobody is immune to a bargain. However, is this day not somewhat ironic?

As the clock strikes midnight, stores open their floodgates and watch as manic shoppers spill into their aisles. Merely hours ago, these customers had gathered to recognize all they have in life; now they can be seen battling on retail floors for what wish they had.

The idea of Black Friday is incredibly contradictory to that of Thanksgiving.

After one too many mouthfuls of turkey, the meat sweats kick in and so does the blissful feeling of contentment as we look around at those we cherish.  Where does that contentment go as Friday dawns? Customers go into hyper purchasing, forget family and friends, and have three full shopping carts of inane products, is what we really need to feel happiness?

Do not fall into the pitfalls of over-consumption.

I am in no position to say how to celebrate this public holiday. Brits are also susceptible to the Black Friday epidemic.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful day in the United States so don’t let Black Friday overshadow it. This is an opportunity to surround ourselves with loved ones and be thankful for all that we have. While it may turn to a drunken feud over Trivial Pursuit or a heated dispute over election results, try to avoid transforming the dinner table into a board meeting for Black Friday strategies.

Maybe steer clear of the sales altogether, swap crowded malls for a quiet moment with the grandparents or that last slice of pumpkin pie. Whatever you do this holiday, be sure to spend time with family this season, more so, than spending money.

Note: Shopping online on Cyber Monday is just as bad. Do not try and wrangle out of this one.

Photo Credit: (Simon Maage & freestocks.org on Unsplash)