Black Thursday is more commonly known as Thanksgiving, a day when families -- dysfunctional and otherwise -- gather to over-eat and give gratitude that they are able to. While the day after Thanksgiving has long been the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season, the starting bell has been ringing earlier and earlier each year. Years ago, stores opened on Friday at 6 a.m. That became 5 a.m., then 4 a.m., and then even midnight. Continuing that rollback, some stores now open their doors on Thanksgiving Day -- an event that ties some people's knickers in a knot.
Just to be clear, this is not your local supermarket staying open on your big cooking day, bailing you out when you burn the pies or realize you forgot the cranberry sauce. This is Walmart, Best Buy, Macy's and Target attempting to lure you away from your family with discounts on big-screen TVs and headphones.
The anti-Black Thursday forces have been beating their collective chests over the unfairness of making these stores' low-wage workers leave their families and pie plates to staff the registers so that we may shop on Thanksgiving Day. They also chide those customers who want to shop, because, as logic would have it, the stores wouldn't open (or need people to work) if no one came to spend. There's a Change.org petition demanding that we "Stop retailers from ruining peoples [sic] Thanksgiving" and a Facebook page with more than 75,000 likes that urges people to "Boycott Black Thursday."
There's just one problem: Who made them the boss of us? How do these people actually know that the guy who is working the register at Target doesn't appreciate the money? How can they be so certain that the gal gift-wrapping your packages at Macy's even has a family she wants to spend Thanksgiving with? Not everyone does, you know. Some people dread the holiday and are more than happy to spend it earning some money.
And as for criticizing those who would shop on Thanksgiving: Same deal. Maybe it's fun. Maybe it's better than watching Uncle Bob get drunk. Maybe it's something that the whole family does together instead of lapsing into a turkey coma. Or maybe they do both, coma then shop?
But who are you -- Black Thursday protesters -- to tell us that you know what's best for us? I don't recall electing you, and yet you want to impose your values on me. Thanks, but we already have enough politicians and Facebook friends trying to do that.
Personally, I hate crowds and you couldn't drag me by the hair into a store when I can shop with my fingertips online. I'm also morally opposed to spending money foolishly, which is what a lot of the Black Thursday-Friday-Cyber Monday madness is about. I suffer PTSD from losing my job in the recession and still pick up pennies when I see them on the street. I preach from the Bible of Savings. Maybe you've heard my favorite Psalm: "Thou shall not spend money on foolishness if thou hopes to retire one day." May I hear a chorus of "Amen?"
So no, you won't catch me near a store on Black Thursday or any other day that I can avoid it. I'm quite content with what I have as long as I have my kids happy and healthy. I will be someone who spends Thanksgiving with her family, around a table laden with food. Some friends will likely join us and we also likely will spend some time -- again as a family -- helping to serve meals to the homeless. I could probably be the poster girl for the Black Thursday opposition forces, celebrating the day just the way they think everyone should.
The difference is this: While I may question the sanity of those people who camp out in the Walmart parking lot waiting for the store to open so they could save a few bucks on holiday toys for their kids, I wouldn't dream of imposing my will or my values on them.
Thanksgiving happiness doesn't just come in one shape. Shop or don't shop, that's your choice. But don't make Thanksgiving a holiday about labor rights when you ignore it the other 364 days a year. And while I'm on the soapbox, don't make Christmas the one day a year you pay attention to the homeless and hungry either.
Social activism? Folks, it's a 365-day-a-year commitment, although you'll probably want to take off on Thanksgiving.