A holiday’s evolution

Published 11:34 pm Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Thanksgivings of your childhood — what does that mean for you? Does it mean family gathered ‘round the fire, sharing stories of long ago? Does it evoke memories of simpler times, of falling asleep on a father’s lap while the men and boys watched the game, and the women chatted in the kitchen? Of siblings and cousins chasing one another around the house, running each other into sheer exhaustion? Of friends and neighbors dropping by to share in the joy and abundance?
For many of us, the holiday means all of those things; it’s been the source of cherished memories throughout our lives.
Of course as we get older, as families expand, as they move farther away, Thanksgiving Day, like any other holiday, must change. And with change comes new traditions. It’s inevitable and, in many cases, welcome.
But even as traditions evolve to better things, it’s the most recent evolution of Thanksgiving that is cause for some concern.
Because this year, Thanksgiving is in danger of being hijacked.
From one year to the next, the advent of Black Friday sales have crept closer and closer to the clock striking midnight, toeing the line between Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday, to the point that some people have begun to sacrifice family time for much-needed rest — in order to be first in line when the doors open at 4 a.m.
But this year, some stores aren’t waiting on the stroke of midnight for the shopping frenzy to begin. Some Black Friday sales will start nationwide at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.
While it’s inevitable that our holiday traditions change as time passes, is it inevitable that we gradually watch our uniquely American holiday be consumed by consumerism? The time has come to ask ourselves whether any deal on gadgets and electronics is worth the price that will, eventually, have to be paid: when Black Friday becomes just another day after a Thankless Thursday.