Regular followers of my blog, both of you, are familiar with my traditional rant about Thanksgiving. For many years now, I have written about how sad it has been to see a truly American holiday become simply the day before everyone goes shopping.
This year, we are actually seeing many major retailers open at 9:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, pre-empting Black Friday by three full hours.
Workers at some of these retailers are beginning their own movements to protest this progress, but to no avail. In a recession, retailers are far more interested in bringing in customers than how long workers have to spend with their families on Thanksgiving.
A couple of thoughts have occurred to me this year as we see the once hallowed holiday slowly become the equivalent to a designated day of shopping.
Maybe I have simply overestimated the value of the holiday for Americans. After all, if there were not customers willing to line up mere minutes after their meal for a great deal on a big screen TV, retailers wouldn’t find it profitable to open on Thanksgiving. I’ve always assumed that Americans treasured the holiday that I grew up liking almost as much as Christmas.
But maybe that simply isn’t the case for other people.
Maybe people don’t value time spent with family anymore. Maybe we don’t need an excuse to stop take an entire day to show our thanks for what we have as a country anymore.
Maybe Thanksgiving really doesn’t need to be a holiday anymore.
Before you accuse me of heresy, think about how many of our fellow Americans are currently unable to treat Thanksgiving as a day off anymore. And also think about how many Americans will spend more time mapping out purchases for Friday than they will cooking or eating anything on Thursday.
Just over a decade ago, anyone who wasn’t working at a 7-11 or for the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys football teams, had Thanksgiving day off. Now, more and more Americans are working or shopping for at least a portion of one our country’s great holidays.
So, if this is a problem, and that is a subjective question, what is the solution?
We can’t expect Americans to give up on a good deal, that’s against our nature. And we can’t expect business to not do whatever they can to take our money, because that is just as un-American.
So what can we do to save Thanksgiving?
What if the government made it illegal for retailers to be open on Thanksgiving?
Before you think that would cripple our economy, remember that retailers have spent that last 100 years being closed on Thanksgiving, so it shouldn’t kill business.
And having the government dictate when a business can be open is also not a new idea. You can’t buy a car on Sunday in Colorado and until recently you couldn’t buy alcohol that wasn’t 3.2 beer.
My free-market friends might think that having the government ban retailers from being open on Thanksgiving as anti-American, if not heretical. But the alternative is to lose a once treasured holiday that is becoming a speed bump to a more treasured holiday of buying.
We should collectively decide one way or the other. Protect Thanksgiving from Black Friday, or cancel the holiday altogether.
Either Thanksgiving is the new Flag Day and we should stop even worrying about having a meal with family, knowing that the tryptophan will only slow our purchasing, or we hold the holiday dear and do something to protect it.
Watching the once proud holiday die this slow and painful death is hard to take. The day deserves better than that, and so do we.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.