Black Black Consumerism

When did Thanksgiving become a day of shopping and planning for Christmas? I was appalled this year that Thanksgiving became a holiday where people left their families to work and shop. And to be honest, I realized it a little too late. My turkey barely set in my belly, I chose to go out and about to get my amazing 30-peice tupperware steal for $6.89 (insert sarcasm here). My justification: I was shopping with some of my family, therefore it was ok, despite my earlier protest of the hate for consumerism during the holidays.

I feel like such a hypocrite. It wasn’t until I was in the trenches that I realized what a hoax this whole “Black Friday” thing really is. After witnessing mean and selfish consumers, the thought of the pending holiday being driven by prices and steals made me sad. It wasn’t until  I went back to my family’s house and saw the news that I realized the impact of what has become the worst and most selfish holiday. What happened to gratitude?

PEOPLE of the United States, look at us: Crazy Black Friday Fight

Investment Watch reported:

“It’s Black-eye Friday! Man stabbed in row over parking space and shopper shot for his new TV as violent bargain-hunters come to blows

  • The rush for Black Friday bargains has resulted in outbreaks of violence as shoppers clash over reduced price goods
  • Police in Virginia have reporting a stabbing incident after two men got into a fight in the car park over a space
  • In Las Vegas, thief shot shopper in his leg and stole his television, while cops in Chicago shot a man as he scuffled with a police officer
  • Shoppers cutting in line sparked a Black Friday Brawl at another Walmart
  • Several clips have already appeared on YouTube of the carnage at various Walmart stores
  • Some retailers opened their doors as early as 6am on Thanksgiving Day”

Shooting people for discounted prices, really??

In the USAToday article, We’re past Thanksgiving, time for Thanksgetting, I was blown away by how true this article rings about what it means to be ‘an American.’ Essentially, the article talks about how being a true American is one who doesn’t focus on the things that they have already, but the things that are wanted/”needed.” I won’t even go into how the average household has accumulated so much debt just to get what is wanted/”needed”, or how our nation’s idea of spending is intoxicating. I digress.

The article states it best:

“Thanksgiving is un-American. Thanksgiving is obsolete. Thanksgiving needs to be eliminated.

In our culture, we tell our children that it is o.k. to be pleased with what you have done, but never be satisfied. You need to keep your eye on the prize, do not rest content with what you have. To be content is to stop moving forward, to stop moving forward is to quit and winners never quit. Only losers are content and contentment with what you have is the basis of thankfulness.

Maybe in the Norman Rockwell mythological 19th century America we could be truly thankful, but in today’s America, we need to keep on needing. To reflect on how much you appreciate what you have instead of considering what you lack and thereby still need is to undermine the entire basis of our economy.

To stop and reflect on the sufficiency of what you have violates the true spirit of what it is to be an American which is to always need the newest, the best, the biggest. No matter what you have, someone else has more or better and to be grateful to be less than the top banana is unacceptable.”

I found myself hating this holiday where I should be remembering, giving, thanking, loving….

I wanted to know if anyone else out there felt the way I felt. I found this article, How Thanksgiving Really Makes Us Feel: The Verge. It said, ” The holiday [Thanksgiving] varies from person to person and family to family, causing real problems for anyone who wants to contemplate the True Meaning of Thanksgiving. Has the national celebration of football and shopping overtaken the giving-thanks part of it all? Is Thanksgiving kind of a downer? How would you even know?” The article dives into the psychology of how people view this holiday.

While the article spouted data complete with how many tweets said ‘grateful,’ it also determined the following, “It makes sense, given the long-standing correlation between gratitude and positive affect — but the study didn’t stop there. Once researchers controlled for gratitude, imagining a Thanksgiving-like day without the bump in that sentiment, things got messy. Levels of related readings like life satisfaction and “meaning in life” plummeted. Negative affect jumped up. This makes a certain sense too: Thanksgiving is filled with stressful factors, whether it’s travel, family conflicts, or high-stakes cooking, any of which could easily chip away at a person’s sense of well-being. The result is a kind of Thanksgiving parable in research form. Without all the gratitude in the air, the holiday stress became overwhelming.”

The article does acknowledge that the findings are flawed based on how it was gathered, but cultivates a sense of hope that people really are more grateful during the holiday, despite what we see on the news.

SIDE NOTE: I have been in a fight with media lately. I do not like the focus of gloom and doom, and all the bad things that happen in the world. What if we highlighted the good of Thanksgiving instead of the cat fight at Walmart? I know that stations report what they think viewers want based on viewership. The long internal debate continues – by my highlighting these things on my blog, I am also part of this “mediaship.” I am a a hypocrite for highlighting these things in this blog. I am just adding to the viewership….I get it.

Regardless,  I hope I have illuminated and stirred some caution when it comes to the holidays. My hope is that we will begin to recognize the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas by not buying into what the media or sales people portray as what is important at this time of year.