Remember when many schools let out for Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays? No?
How about when Veterans’ Day always involved a parade? Even when we weren’t at war?
Oh, oh, I’ve got another one: Do you recall when people knew what Labor Day commemorated? And took the day off?
You aren’t alone. Many people don’t remember these things, or only vaguely recall them.
Soon, I predict, Thanksgiving Day will be more like Labor Day or Independence Day. It will disappear into a long list of other days that represented something important, days that had meaning other than another chance at frenzied purchases and sports events.
I don’t know how I feel about this.
I like Thanksgiving. I like the gatherings of friends and family. I like the feast, though our small family of three has usually eaten out rather than cook more food than we can eat in a week. I like the idea of thinking about the last year, its fortunes and misfortunes, and the hope of the next one.
The last few years have been sad for me. I’ve watched Thanksgiving preparations become more focused on getting it over with so people can rush out to shop. Caught between the frenzied orange-and-green gluttony of Halloween and the desperate red-and-green materialism of Christmas, the simple act of sharing and giving thanks seems too simple somehow. It has trouble holding its value when competing with so much excess and raw emotion. Thanksgiving seems like the burdensome and obligatory starting gate towards the end of the year on New Year’s Eve. A wild and exciting ride through Advent, winter’s beginning, and Christmas, it is an auspicious season, though increasingly a stressed and worried one.
This year stores didn’t just count on ‘Black Friday’ to boost their incomes. They remained open all day Thanksgiving.
I understand the need to increase income, especially this year when our economy is struggling and our leaders just…don’t. As corporations seek to be treated as individuals, it seems to me they must also seek to be decent, good citizens. They must follow the same universal values that are present in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. They must be held to the same, if not higher, moral standards as other individuals; after all, they represent many individuals in their financial dealings. If they cannot act responsibly and legally, they must be held accountable as any individual would be; the individuals that make up the corporate individual must each be held accountable for their corporate entity.
This is especially true when businesses set up situations where it is obvious that violence will occur, such as Wal-Mart and its gamesmanship with prices that lures in those desperate to provide things for their families that they cannot otherwise afford. With our economy soured, there is no excuse for offering prices only on one night at a certain hour that could just as easily be offered at a staggered rate throughout the holiday season, thus avoiding the dangerous crush of frantic shoppers. It is irresponsible to do otherwise.
I wish we were able to go back to Thanksgiving as a meal shared with those we love. I wish businesses would stay closed until their usual hours on the Friday after. I wish businesses would spread those sales out so more people could safely participate in them.
I wish we still gave thanks for what we have and focused less on what we wish we had.