Every year, I spend Thanksgiving running the Turkey Trot, eating my weight in turkey and stuffing, and spending valuable time with my family and friends. I take time to reflect on the aspects of my full life for which I am so grateful: my wonderful education, my perfect health and the constant presence of loved ones.
Wait, go back. Notice I didn’t mention shopping on Turkey Day. I find it more appealing to slowly digest my Thanksgiving dinner, rather than inhale it. I’ll admit I did get dragged to the Walden Galleria a couple of years ago on Thanksgiving for several hours. But I’ll be sure to never repeat that mistake. Although discounted TVs, iPods and kitchen appliances can look like a steal, it seems wrong to indulge our materialistic sides on the one day when we are supposed to give thanks for everything we already have. Look at it this way: When was the last time you were consciously thankful for finding that cute sweater on the sale rack? Thanksgiving shouldn’t be the day that we are thankful for our material possessions; we should be appreciating the intangible ones.
Speaking of nonmaterial riches, I believe that among the most important are the many relationships we have, whether they are with our family, friends, colleagues, classmates or even pets. It’s surely easier to recognize all of these relationships when we aren’t trampling others to get into Walmart. Ironically, the National Retail Federation estimates that one-third of the bargain-hunters will shop alone this year.
Furthermore, since Thanksgiving is a day we traditionally spend thinking about others, let’s take a moment to remember we are also hurting store employees by shopping on Thanksgiving. Not only are retail workers hassled by working tremendously long shifts on a day that most workers take off, but studies show their overall performance can be diminished due to the stress of Black Friday.
If these moral and ethical concerns aren’t enough to persuade you, perhaps direct threats to your well-being can. While many associate Black Friday with discounted goods, few remember the aggression, hostility and violence that can occur. Last year, there were countless reports of Black Friday “scuffles” across the country. Two years ago there was a shooting at a Florida Walmart, an armed robbery in South Carolina and a vehicular assault in Washington. These incidents don’t even take into account the random acts of aggression that are synonymous with Black Friday shopping. In fact, I witnessed a near assault in the Walden Galleria parking lot during our short Black Friday shopping trip – over a parking spot.
“I remember weaving through people. Now that I look back, I’m surprised I didn’t break my spine or leg in the process,” said Michelle Dao, a student at Williamsville North High School. “The cursing … in front of small children and the smashing of shopping carts are not worth it.”
Needless to say, my idea of a “happy holiday” doesn’t include physical injury.
Thankfully, there are some simple solutions to this holiday tradition. Obviously, it would be most effective to simply not shop on Thanksgiving, like Williamsville North High School junior Sarah Schwartz’s family members, who “avoid Black Friday shopping like the plague.”
However, resisting temptation is a difficult task for many consumers. Instead of eliminating holiday shopping, we should resist “shopping until we drop” until early Friday morning. Although some stores open early on Thanksgiving, we, the consumers, can still refuse to shop until the following day. Not only will we be supporting hard-working employees and avoiding dangerous mobs by delaying our shopping extravaganzas, but we’ll become more aware of what is most important in our lives. And I’m not talking about the hottest door-busters.
Cari Hurley is a senior at Williamsville North High School.