One year while I was in college, I was home for Thanksgiving with my mom and my sister. We were merrily cooking away for a group of invited friends when we realized there was no milk in the house. Crisis! Milk is crucial to my mom’s mashed potatoes, so my sister and I went in search of an open market. Safeway, King Soopers, and Albertson’s were all pitch black. Even the 7-Eleven was closed.
Just when we had given up the search and agreed that mashed potatoes really can’t ever be bad, even without milk, we spied a little local gas station with a light on. Inside we grabbed a tiny bottle of milk from the single cooler and commented to the attendant (and owner) that we were surprised to find her open. “You just got lucky ladies,” she said. “I would never be open on Thanksgiving day; it’s a holiday! I just forgot something myself and had to swing by and grab it from the storeroom. I’m locking up again right now.”
That was the 80s. Today, most grocery stores are open on Thanksgiving day, as are some drug stores and liquor stores. While I guess that’s great if you forget the the milk — or the butter, walnuts, mushrooms, brandy, or some other crucial ingredient — I must say it just doesn’t seem like a holiday when people can be busting about getting errands done…
However, as much as I mildly don’t like the open grocery stores, it’s the encroachment of Black Friday that truly upsets me. It might not surprise anyone to learn that I absolutely love Thanksgiving. But what might surprise you is that I don’t actually love Thanksgiving for the food. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the meal and am pretty darn proud of my take on cranberry sauce and my extremely delicious stuffing. I love gravy as much as the next person, and I am already dreaming of a my sister’s apple butter custard pie. But as much as I love the eating, it’s the gathering that I really love — the feeling that the day is all about creating a meal together — and maybe watching a little football, taking a walk around the block, and sipping a cocktail or two — while we stir, talk, taste, baste, and generally enjoy not being out in the world.
When stores open on Thanksgiving for Black Friday sales, it makes me sad for the people who work in those stores and mad at the people who cynically look at Thanksgiving as an opportunity to beat out the competition in the war of “who can sell the most discount TVs and video games.” I mean, Thanksgiving is a tradition that was begun before this country was founded, and one of its most enduring and endearing aspects is that it’s not a shopping-centric holiday — no decorations to speak of, no presents, no roses. Now, though, if we don’t watch it, Thanksgiving could become Black Friday Eve.
So, you might be wondering where I’m going with this rant. Here is where: Don’t do it. Don’t go out there, don’t head to the melee at Toys ‘R Us when you could be eating pie with your family or friends. As wacky and difficult as your people might be, I bet they’re nothing compared to spin through a Wal-Mart swarming with frenzied bargain hunters. Sit down and relax; have an after-dinner drink. Thanksgiving is a holiday all about giving thanks and appreciating the bounty that we already have. Let’s not give those big-box retailers reason to think that we want it turned into a mere prelude to Black Friday, which, let’s face it, is in itself a holiday devoted to celebrating consumerism and the desire for more more more.
I’ve never participated in Black Friday, and this year I’ve decided to not give any more money to stores that start Black Friday on Thursday. I realize this includes my beloved Target, but so be it. Anyone want to join me in saying no to Black Thursday? Because Thanksgiving is sacred. Let’s keep it that way no matter what.
Okay, whew. I feel better.
I hope you have a safe, happy, cozy, and very delicious Thanksgiving!