Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Sunday

This was bound to happen, sooner or later. But that doesn't make it a good thing:

NEW YORK ( -- Black Friday is coming a day early for Toys R Us this year, the toy seller said Thursday.

It's another signal that this year is shaping up to be a very aggressive holiday selling season. Toys R Us' announcement comes on the same day that Wal-Mart announced free online shipping on holiday deals.

Toys R Us stores will open at 10:00 p.m. nationwide on Thanksgiving Day. Recently stores have been opening their doors earlier, even on the Thanksgiving Day holiday. This is the earliest that Toys R Us has ever kicked off its Black Friday "doorbuster" deals.

"This opportunity is designed to accommodate the early shoppers and help alleviate crowds that build from that point forward," said Toys R Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh.

Doorbuster discounts are the deepest and most-coveted deals. Shoppers often wait on line for hours -- sometimes overnight -- for stores to open their doors on the day after Thanksgiving.

So, if Toys' R Us is opening its doors at 10:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day...what time, exactly, will shoppers start lining up? And what time will the hapless retail employees have to be at the store, instead of home with their families celebrating the holiday?

It's getting to the point where Thanksgiving is facing the same pressure nationally that Ascension Thursday faced for Catholics. The American bishops, realizing that too many people were skipping such an important feast day altogether because it always fell on Thursday, moved the observance (in many dioceses) to Sunday, making the previous Thursday just an ordinary day in the Easter season. Though it is an absurdity to celebrate "Ascension Sunday," it was better, thought the bishops making the decision, to do this than to have far too many Catholics not show up for Mass at all on this important holy day.

And now, Thanksgiving may simply be too inconvenient for people, falling as it does on a weekday/workday/shopping day. It's bad enough that people have to celebrate a holiday that requires gathering with actual family and cooking actual food; now they'll have to choose between hanging around for the pumpkin pie and coffee and rushing out to start lining up for the Black Friday sales. Wouldn't it be better simply to move Thanksgiving to Sunday, so that people can have a whole week of "Black Week-Before-Thanksgiving Sales" with their hype and hoopla and supposedly steep discounts on goods manufactured for pennies an hour by the hopeless citizens of various third world human-rights-abuser nations?

Thanksgiving Sunday could be a good compromise; those stores which insist on being open anyway usually keep shorter hours on a Sunday, and if all of the "Black Week-Before-Thanksgiving Sales" expire on Saturday night, there won't be a hugely compelling reason for shoppers to rush out immediately after the turkey dinner to line up outside of electronics stores and other venues. Those who do want to skip out early from family festivities can use the traveling excuse--have to catch that Sunday night flight home to be ready for work Monday morning!--while those who do want to stick around for pie and coffee won't feel any pressure to go queue up for three-dollar toasters or half-off toys.

The more I think about it, the more I think that Thanksgiving Sunday might be the only way to keep Thanksgiving on the holiday calendar. Otherwise, some bright-eyed advertising genius is going to decide, one of these days, that his company's "Black Friday" sales should really begin on Wednesday evening--and when that happens, the poor old turkey dinner holiday might as well give up the ghost.

Because the greed of the American company can only be matched by the greed of the American consumer; and both would be willing to sell Thanksgiving in exchange for pre-Christmas deals, so long as the price is right.


Anonymous said...

Erin. Thanksgiving Sunday is a non-starter for me, and here's why: Friday after Thanksgiving is one of our holidays at work. My co-workers and I love having this four-day weekend.


Erin Manning said...

Well, Bern, I'm not really in favor of it, either. The piece is kind of tongue-in-cheek. I'm really just disgusted that so many retailers are pushing "Black Friday" into Thanksgiving itself, eclipsing the actual holiday. I'd hate to see Thanksgiving become like other secular holidays, just an excuse to have "Special Holiday Sales" instead of observe the holiday.

Patrick said...

Great post. No surprise that this permeates the holidays, given that it has permeated the language. I'm sick of this phrase: American *consumer*. Or referring to human beings as "consumers" instead of people or some other phrase that doesn't reduce mankind to one function.

Why does it matter? I'm not sure it does, though I think once we think of ourselves as "consumers" and are thought of as "consumers" we begin to treat ourselves, and be treated, like a resource for exploitation.

Erin Manning said...

Excellent point, Patrick. The language we use does tend to dehumanize us these days.

Patrick said...

"The language we use does tend to dehumanize us these days."

I'm reminded of something that Chesterton said: that Christ was able to explain existence in four short gospels without introducing any new words. Possibly, it is anti-Christ that needs jargon, corporate-speak, euphemism and new words in order to obscure the nature of being. Much easier to exploit a "consumer" than a "child of God". Much easier to be "pro-choice" by not mentioning what the "choice" is. Much easier to (speaking of Veterans Day) sweep "post-traumatic stress disorder" under the table by hiding the utter brutality of war through obscure jargon - else you might reconsider whether every war is worth fighting.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Erin, I agree!

And I thought you were being a bit tongue-in-cheek and certainly not in favor of Thanksgiving Sunday.



Siarlys Jenkins said...

Holidays should be holidays, whether in the holy or secular sense. Sometimes, we just need to shut everything down and relax. I suppose to accomplish that it would have to be mandated by law. That's the only way to keep a level playing field for all businesses, so their competitors don't steal a march on them. Then we need exceptions for truly essential services -- a handful of pharmacies, etc. Then a layer of regulations to close off manipulative exploitation of those exceptions... Which I suppose is more trouble than anyone wants to deal with. But some days, we should just shut down. And no more "nearest Monday" holidays either.

eulogos said...

Well, my husband has just been mandated to work at the Post Office on Thanksgiving. (the mail processing centers are open 24/7/356.) This has created a Thaksgiving crisis. I am afraid we are going to have to have Thanksgiving on Saturday. I'll be out planting bulbs on Thanksgiving day. I like holidays to be on their proper day, and am really bummed about this.
Susan Peterson