The Dark Side of Black Friday

We all have an image of the ideal Thanksgiving Day set in our heads. It is a day of cooking, feasting, and eventually laying in food comas. It is a day of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving special, and football. It is a day of laughter, catching up, and enjoying the wonderful company of family and close friends. It is a day of reflection, appreciation, and giving thanks. But, this has all changed in recent years.

This year as families were sitting down to feast on a thoughtfully planned out and carefully cooked dinner, 307. 67 million Americans were standing in lines outside of major retailers. This year Black Friday, the day of shopping historically following Thanksgiving Day, took over Thanksgiving Day. Stores such as Wal-Mart opened as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. About 10% of the shoppers were out at stores by 8 p.m. on Thursday and an estimated 28% of shoppers were at the stores by midnight, compared to 24.4% last year. That means millions of Americans cut their Thanksgiving festivities short to shop. So it can be argued that sneaky and creative retailers have transformed what was created as a day of thanks into a day of greed.

As evidence note that the number of Black Friday sales this year hit the all time high. Total spending over the four-day weekend totaled $59.1 billion, up 12.8 percent from 2011. Thanksgiving online sales rose 32 percent from last year to $633 million. And online sales on Black Friday were up 26 percent from the same day last year to $1.042 billion. Chew on these facts. They don’t taste as good as that homemade stuffing or grandma’s apple pie did, do they? That’s because they’re not delicious, appetizing, or appealing. They are a reflection of the disgusting consumerism that has engulfed America. They are evidence that desire has overwhelmed gratitude. And that’s not a leftover I am anxious to dig into. Continue reading “The Dark Side of Black Friday”

Pardon Me, Please?

Before you dig into your Thanksgiving turkey (or am I too late?), consider this fun fact: the President of the United States pardons a turkey at an official ceremony in the White House every year and saves it from slaughter.

This tradition started in 1989 with President George H. Bush.  Among the lucky few birds that have been spared are Katie and Zack in 2001 (named after children of the Chairman of the National Turkey Federation),  Marshmallow and Yam in 2005, and Liberty and Peace last Thanksgiving.

The process  is full of pomp.  The turkeys (one for the ceremony and one alternate) are selected at birth and trained to handle loud noises, crowds, and flash photography. They are brought into D.C. via motorcade and stay in a deluxe suite at the W Hotel, feasting on berries, corn, and acorn the night before the event. After their official duty, they are whisked off to Mount Vernon.

All is done in good jest and the holiday spirit, but it raises some “sort of” serious questions:

1. Why pardon turkeys at all?  Does this point to a larger issue about animal cruelty or food (over)consumption? Surely, there’s a reason why we cringe when we see Governor Palin pardoning a turkey while his fellow birds are being butchered in the background::


2. And what about the names? Why Liberty?  Why Peace?  And why was Liberty the chosen bird and Peace the alternate?  Surely it would have been bad taste to name the bird Osama.  But in the name of all things to be pardoned, what about Congress or the Economy? There must be a method to the madness of selecting these select birds—if the act is symbolic, then the names must be as well.

Just some food for thought.  Happy Thanksgiving!