This article originally appeared on November 9th, 2015.
It’s not Thanksbuying. Or Thanksworking. It’s Thanksgiving, a time to rest and feast and reconnect with family and friends, a time to give thanks to the Creator for all the blessings in our lives—the relationships, the sustenance, the joy and purpose of our lives. But in recent years it has morphed, for many, into a juggernaut of consumerism that catapults us into the holiday shopping season.
Every year, as the greed-driven frenzy behind Black Friday intensifies—and creeps backwards into Thanksgiving Thursday—more retail workers revolt against being forced to leave their families to go to work, often at unreasonable hours (especially difficult for employees who depend on public transportation) and in some cases with little or no overtime pay. We salute these workers, but we also acknowledge that as long as shoppers show up, pushing their way (sometimes with fatal results) to bargain prices, the workers don’t stand a chance at being heard by their employers. The most effective way to convince corporations that they shouldn’t open their stores on Thanksgiving Day is for all of us to abstain from shopping. The corporate decision-makers won’t keep a practice that doesn’t profit.
Let’s put our money where our hearts are. Can we do that? Can we abstain from shopping for this one holiday and, say, toss a Frisbee with some friends, craft some homemade Christmas cards (good for kids of all ages), or simply enjoy the silence of an unplugged, commute-free day instead?
Stay home on Thanksgiving night and Black Friday. Let’s give workers the Thanksgiving holiday—and rest—they deserve.
Of course, Thanksgiving isn’t viewed as a national holiday by everyone. Indigenous people have rightly pointed out that our American “blessings” are built on the back of land theft and pillaging. And as Christians, we must challenge ourselves to make sure that our faith is truly reflected in the holiday, by sharing our bounty with those who have not. Now that would really keep the “give” in Thanksgiving!