and have noted that they agree with the sentiment.
Let me lay my cards on the table before I start a tirade. I do not like to shop. To borrow phrasing from a genius of the previous century:
I do not like to shop here or there,
I do not like it anywhere.
Not in a box.
Not with a fox.
Not in a house.
Not with a mouse.
No, this is not going to turn into a post where I end up liking shopping at the end. My point is that since I avoid shopping as much as possible, I really don't have a dog in this fight. I do, however, have some observations and a few thoughts I would like to share.
First, we are over-commercialized as a society. We are constantly marketed to and we seem to love it. After all, isn't it nice to have people telling you that you are worth it. You deserve a new car. You deserve an upgraded gadget. If the things you have still function, so what, you can have better. Not only can you have it, you should. Some voice from the digital netherworld tells speaks to us and tells us how good we are and how much we deserve things. It knows us. It knows our desires and deepest needs for fulfillment. How it makes us feel so empowered....Oh...wait....none of that is true. The voice in our heads (coming from the speakers or ear-buds) doesn't want what is best for us. The voice doesn't know us, or care for us. Have we forgotten that advertising is for the benefit of the business, not necessarily for our benefit.
It is no wonder that we act the way we act. With the constant pounding of how much we deserve and how special we are (especially if we buy their product) we almost certainly have to give in at some point. Besides we really do want some of these things.
By the way, it is also easier. After all, if we are really honest, we probably don't deserve that new car. And that bigger, more powerful, shiny thing, we probably don't deserve that either. Backing down from deserve, we probably don't even need it. We are surviving, and probably thriving, now and we don't have whatever it is that we supposedly need.
Marketers have figured out that the longing (at the heart of the human condition) which needs fulfillment from a transcendent source, can be temporarily pacified with stuff. They make a living off of the temporary nature of the satisfaction, because they know we will need a new fix in a short amount of time. As our society becomes more spiritually impoverished, we cry out for more and more material things to quiet the part of us yearning for connection to that which is beyond this world. So we buy stuff.
Second, we have traditions and customs and we don't want people to mess with them. At least that is what we say. On Thanksgiving many people will gather with people who they have some sense that they must like/love (because they are related) and share food. I know that many people love gathering with family, as do I, but for some it is just another obligation.
For years now there have been a few acceptable intrusions on the "SACRED THURSDAY OF TURKEY." There is a parade, football, and for some people, hunting.
A parade is an acceptable intrusion. I admit there are many things I do not understand. I know a few things fairly well, but parades baffle me.
The first thing that baffles me about parades is that anyone would want to have one. In High School Band I was forced to march in them. I later found out that compelled parade marching is outlawed under the Geneva Convention, it is apparently next to the water boarding section.
The second thing that baffles me about parades is that anyone would want to go to one. As a younger child I was forced to attend parades. Although parade attendance is not specifically prohibited by Geneva, I think we should start a petition to have it added.
Finally, and most baffling to me about parades, is that someone would think it a good idea to put a parade on television. I understand that many years ago programming was limited. You might not want to air another black and white episode of The Lone Ranger on Thanksgiving. It probably seemed like a good idea to put a few cameras outside and beam pictures of streets, sidewalks, and buildings into people's homes. After all, it was Thanksgiving; people were not going to be watching the television anyway. If they happened to tune in and see people on the street, they might think it was a rather slow part of Perry Mason, and turn it off.
Broadcasting video of things like streets and fireplaces, apparently has some following and has wormed its way into the American experience. And we don't complain about parades interfering with Thanksgiving. We don't complain about football interfering with Thanksgiving. Some people complain about hunting interfering with Thanksgiving.
But a few years ago someone thought that is was simply to Arbitrary to wait until midnight to sell stuff after the Turkey was slaughtered. They thought they might bump it up a bit and sell things on the Sacred Thursday. So they did. And gravy didn't freeze over. Green beans were still consumed. Pies, cakes, and the other bounty of the harvest did not come crashing down to destroy their place of business. So more retailers became emboldened.
But something is stirring. Now, sliding back from the fowl feast, we hear cackling disapproval. A gobbling of disgust bursts forth at the prospect defiling so sacred a day. It is acceptable to watch video of streets and sidewalks, and to watch grown men play games, but to go shopping, that is too much. There are approved activities on SACRED THURSDAY OF TURKEY and shopping is not one of them.
The complaints, as I have gathered, are as follows.
1) People should put family above shopping.
2) Traditions should be observed, rather than shopping.
3) When you shop, someone has to work instead of being with their family.
There are probably others, but these are the three I will address.
First, just because you have certain traditions does not mean that everyone else does the same things you do. Whether or not you watch streets and sidewalks Thanksgiving morning or watch grown men case each other in the afternoon, not everyone does.
You enjoy the parade? Great! Enjoy it. But please don't ask me to. (I would rather have teeth pulled.)
You love football? Great! Have fun watching it.
You like to spend all day hanging out with your family? Great! Have fun and enjoy them.
For many years now, holidays have been about going from one gathering to another for my family. Never enough time at one place and then we have to go and meet with another side of the family. Because of that, we have often had holiday meals (Thanksgiving and Christmas) on other days. (I can hear the gasps.) We have even had to have breakfasts rather than dinners.
The point is that families have to make things work, and that doesn't mean that everyone will do things the same way. So embrace the fact that not everyone will sit down to eat about the same time your family sits down to eat your Thanksgiving meal. Schedules are fluid and why should we expect everyone to do things the same was as we do?
If you have your Thanksgiving meal on Saturday, because that is when everyone can get together, then that means you will have free time on Thursday. Maybe that time can be used to get some things accomplished, that is unless the Turkey Police decide that you can't.
The final issue I will address is the idea that if you shop someone can't be with their family. Many people work on Thanksgiving, just because you might not does not mean that other aren't. Healthcare workers, utilities workers, police and fire, convenience store and gas stations, military, and others. Not to mention the people who work the parade and football games. Lots of people already work holidays. So they can't be with their family, right? My guess is that they will share their meals at alternative times.
So why should retail be different? If someone wants to work on Thanksgiving, who are we to tell them they should not. Who are we to tell them they are somehow less to earn a living on this day.
The reality is that we have problems in our culture. We need more, as a country and as people, than things. Our country and culture have changed and are changing. But getting mad at retailers for being open on Thanksgiving is not the answer. Being open for business on Thanksgiving is not the problem.
But it is easy to object to change and claim that the change is the problem. It is easy to share a picture or a post that says how outraged I am about retailers being open on Thanksgiving and how destructive it is for our nation. The hard thing is to be thankful. The difficulty is to be the agent of change that rejects the easy answers and gets to the root of the problem.
The fact is that we are needy people living in a cruel world. We should not take for granted the blessing we have and we should seek to be blessings to others. At the same time we should be careful that we don't deprive others by insisting that they do things the same way we do.