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Why I Will Never Shop on Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving has always, in America, been a small-d-democratic holiday. A day of rest that can be enjoyed by rich and poor alike. For decades upon decades, businesses have been closed on Thanksgiving because shopping is, frankly, not necessary.


My dad was an ER doctor during my growing-up years. Unlike commercial activity, trauma care is, in fact, necessary every second of every minute of every hour of every day of the year. And, as a result of that, although my family was certainly neither wealthy nor poor, I spent a lot of Thanksgivings without having a Thanksgiving. When I was young, this was because my father was the low-doc-on-the-totem-pole, and the more senior docs got the day off. When I was older, this was because my father remembered what it was like to have small children at home and to not be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with them, so, being a deeply generous and wonderful man, he chose to work that holiday so that the doctors with younger families could have it off. Because he is just that kind of a guy. And my family was proud of this, and we wore the badge of his service and his collegiality with pride - all of us. We were happy to delay our Thanksgivings (and even our Christmases) so that the families with small children and toddlers didn't have to delay theirs. Because no one had done it for us, we were committed to doing it for others.


But, no matter what, there was a constant. Even if we had our big turkey dinner on Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, Thanksgiving, for everyone except my father, remained a day of peace and family. Really, there wasn't even any such thing as "Black Friday." The season of Thanksgiving had not yet been given over to an orgy of commercial excess, and the wealthy haves did not expect the poor have-nots to service their commercial wants on Thanksgiving just like every other fucking day of the year.


I'm sorry for the profanity above. But I am deeply upset and distressed that a whole bunch of people who already work for incredibly low wages in the richest economy that the world has ever known aren't even able to enjoy a day of quiet feasting with their families - even if that feast would have come from the food bank - because retail business owners believe that the American people can't wait ONE FUCKING DAY for an opportunity to begin the pre-Christmas shopping. As if Black Friday wasn't bad enough - we followed a day of peace, of family, of feasting, of thankfulness with rage and trampling and screaming at one another over the last Tickle-Me-Elmo doll or Nintendo Wii, but now, in inimitable capitalistic American commercial style, we've overtaken Thanksgiving.


So, me, I'll be home on Thanksgiving with my family. And I hope that this pathetic and obsessive and frankly disgusting trial run of stores being open for Thanksgiving fails miserably. I hope that no one shows up, and that it is a terribly expensive waste of time, since those same business owners who are stealing Thanksgiving from their employees at the point of a letter of termination will have to pay them even if no one comes to their party. And I hope that their party flops.


There is no price cut that is worth this. There is no sale that is worth losing the one holiday in our national lexicon that doesn't involve buying things in order to give it meaning.