Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Our day of national gluttony is almost here. We fill ourselves with turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie, and we sit down to watch football, the sport that offers brain damage from concussions. What a day. It’s one of a few days in the year when families gather to gorge and love one another.

Something has replaced the local enactments of our national mythology. It’s shopping. The thing I have been hearing about is Black Friday. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, and now it is becoming Black Thursday. A bit of an uproar has surfaced about stores being open all or part of Thanksgiving Day, due to people being required to be at work in those stores when God and country have previously expected them to be at the table and in front of the television set. What has happened to our priorities? Our families?

As long as Black Friday has moved to center stage, Thanksgiving Thursday seems to be taking second or third place. Second place behind our economic system. Third place behind the pilgrims of two hundred years ago and their big dinner with the native people that became part of our national mythology. It’s shopping that matters. Let’s get a head start on Christmas, which is only a month away.

I’m glad to know that some churches in Madison will be serving Thanksgiving dinner for those who would like to partake. Those dinners will be lovingly presented by people who won’t be in their homes and won’t be at the mall. Hats off to them. We still have plenty of goodness in the USA.

What can we say about an economic system that is powerful enough to overtake a national holiday? Are human beings primarily economic animals who serve the capitalist system? Some of the store workers may need the money more than they need a turkey dinner. And the turkeys themselves are part of the financial expense of Thanksgiving. Some people can’t afford big turkeys. Low income people are in a bind every day, not just Thanksgiving Day. It’s a system that needs to go to rehab.

We rejoice with our families as we fill ourselves with turkey, watch football and go shopping. Let’s give a thought to American wonderfulness. Families still matter. Being together and sharing food matter in spite of the things that interfere. Let’s put Black Thursday in the back seat, away from our table.