Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The True Purpose of Thanksgiving and the Irony of “Black Friday”

 by Reilly Chapman
          While you sip on your pumpkin spice latte and take a stroll through your neighborhood enjoying the break from classes, remember why we as Americans, celebrate Thanksgiving.
It is not about the scrumptious turkey we get to devour for dinner or the sweet pumpkin pie we get to demolish for desert, it is about giving thanks for the freedoms we have and how lucky we are to be in America enjoying a wonderful feast.
It is really easy for one to forget the true purpose of Thanksgiving when you grow up counting down the days until the school vacation, and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with your mom (or other family member/friend) while he/she cooks a delicious meal.  However, you must always remember that Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1621, to celebrate the harvest acquired by the Plymouth Colony after a harsh winter.  Just as the colonists celebrated Thanksgiving with the Wampanoag Indians, we must celebrate Thanksgiving with our loved ones, to give thanks for everyone and everything in our lives, and the privileges we were born into. We can go to the grocery store and buy our food, whereas in the 17th century people starved if they didn’t hunt or gather their food.

There is another tradition associated with this holiday. In addition to the feast prepared for family and friends every year since 1863, all presidents have delivered a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, where the president offers his own ideas about the holiday and the things Americans or at least their leaders believe we should be grateful for. In 1939, 1940, and 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to increase the Christmas shopping season by moving Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November. Controversy followed and Congress passed a joint resolution in 1941 ruling that Thanksgiving should fall on the fourth Thursday of November, where it remains. What’s the rush in speeding up the holiday that should last all year round? We all have so much to be thankful for!

There is another event that signifies the beginning of the Holiday season: Black Friday.

Black Friday is the day (or mere hours) following Thanksgiving, marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The two occasions are polar opposites though. Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for what you already have and being grateful for everything you are blessed with, whereas Black Friday highlights greed. Not only do people camp out in front of stores to make sure they get the electronic device of their choice for 50% off, but it also promotes a dangerous atmosphere. You do not want to get in between a mother and the toy that she must get for her child. No clothing/electronic device or accessory sale is worth someone getting hurt.  Three to ten people die in the United States during Black Friday festivities every year. You have probably heard about the “Wal-Mart Deathly Stampede” in 2008 at a Long Island Wal-Mart where 2,000 people trampled into the store five minutes before scheduled to open and  trampled a 34 year old temporary employee.  On the same day as the “Wal-Mart Deathly Stampede” on the opposite side of the coast in Palm Desert, CA, two women got into a fight. No one knows why, but plenty of witnesses reported it was a bloody brawl. Bloody enough to incite their male companions to pull out their trusty hand-guns and shoot each other. The few deaths and the countless amounts of physical fights between people over materialistic objects exemplify America’s greed.
People cut their Thanksgiving short to prepare for an all-night shopping spree. The gratitude of Thanksgiving should follow, not only the day after, but every day of the year. There are 33 days left after Thanksgiving to Christmas shop; you have plenty of time to get everything on your child’s/loved one’s Christmas list! The greed is nonchalant.  So what if you end up saving $50 at the end of the night (or early morning); time spent with family and loved ones is priceless, and you should never take that time for granted.
So, switch up your plans this year and instead of participating in the crazy “Black Friday” sales, spend more time with the people that mean the most to you.


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