Black Friday embarrasses America
Forget about an economic crisis; it’s time for the winter holidays. In the U.S., that means as soon as Thanksgiving dinner concludes, it’s off to every Wal-Mart and department store in town for Black Friday.
This national shopping day gives the rest of the world a reason to hate the U.S.
While Americans were fighting with each other for the last talking Elmo toy, Israeli and Hamas forces maintained a shaky ceasefire after several days of intense violence placed between the innocents on both sides of the war zone. In Afghanistan, American troops chowed down with a different kind of family.
As Americans, we forget how good we have it. No citizen has to worry about being lined up against the wall and shot for being the wrong race or believing in the wrong God. No American has to watch the road for improvised explosive devices when they drive down to Target to pick up a TV for 50 percent off.
There shouldn’t be a reason for Americans to constantly fight and grab for the best deals for things that can wait until later. The violence this year was unremarkable, a much welcome change from previous years. There wasn’t a gunfight outside of a Toys “R” Us like in 2008 in California. No one was trampled this year either, thankfully.
The physical damage of this year’s Black Friday frenzy was minimal, but the cultural and societal damage gets worse every year.
Lines at my local Toys “R” Us started as early as 7 p.m. Thanksgiving. My family hadn’t even sat down to say grace by the time others were squatting outside Academy, eager to buy little Billy that BB gun he desperately needs for Christmas.
Christmas has invaded Thanksgiving and that’s a problem. It’s not about keeping Christ in or out of Christmas, it’s about keeping Santa’s shopping list out of the turkey.
Thanksgiving used to be for three things: getting fat, getting drunk, and getting into fights regarding who sucks more — the Cowboys or the Lions. Some people give thanks for their families and assets. In 1941, there was a fiscal element added to Thanksgiving: President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave an executive order changing the official date of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday of November to the fourth, specifically in order to give a boost to the World War II era economy.
At this point, it’s out of hand. Black Friday’s bumping into turkey Thursday. People are lined up at stores that have been playing “Jingle Bells” since Halloween for no reason other than to get people to start thinking about Christmas presents rather than the spirit of Christmas itself.
There’s too much tragedy and struggle this holiday season. For many, this rampant shopping will provide a much-needed respite from having to think about what bills to pay or who’s next to get fired from work. It’s a welcome break from reality.
It doesn’t mean the holidays have to be filled with thoughts on what to buy next. Gift giving and receiving shouldn’t have to be an obligation or a task simplified into a single holiday shopping spree. There should be a sudden compulsion inspired by great love for friends and family to go out and get that special thing for them, not because there’s an advertisement in the paper saying they’ll give you a good deal if you line up at the door at 2 a.m.
If putting the spirit back into the holidays is too much to ask, for crying out loud, then keep Black Friday on Friday.
James Wang is a history sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]