Thanksgivingization

Resist consumerism. Put down the credit card and pick up a fork with family and friends this Thanksgiving.

By Alan Rudnick

It seems every year retailers are pushing holiday seasons earlier and earlier. I walked through the home improvement giant, Lowe's the day after Halloween and saw Christmas decorations, holiday goodies and Christmas lights already on sale. Was that too early or is it just me?

This year, my anecdotal evidence is backed up with fact. The Associated Press published an article titled, “All Day Shopping Frenzy on Thanksgiving?” The article reports on how retailers are trending to open stores on Thanksgiving instead of the day after.

It's a break with tradition. Black Friday, which typically is the year's biggest shopping day, for a decade has been considered the official start to the busy holiday buying season. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving and Christmas remained the only two days a year that stores were closed.

Now Thanksgiving is slowly becoming just another shopping day. Over the past few years, major retailers, including Target and Toys R Us, slowly have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night to one-up each other and compete for holiday dollars.

This year, more than a dozen major retailers are opening on Thanksgiving, including a handful like Macy's, J.C. Penney and Staples that are doing it for the first time. Indeed, retailers say they're just doing what shoppers want. That's an important opportunity for chains, which can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue during the last two months of the year.

Based on this evidence, retailers are pushing up holidays to sell goods. More and more, our holidays (both religious and non-religious) are turning into opportunities for retailers to draw in consumers to buy and consume. Thanksgiving is now no different. What remained as the last holiday where retailers did not make their employees work, has now turned Thanksgiving into another shopping mecca.

This is what I call Thanksgivingization: The effect of consumerism upon Thanksgiving that moves focus off families and thankfulness, and replaces it with an impetus for shopping.   

The spillover of this is how the chaos of shopping crashes with the message and celebration of Christ's birth. The holiday shopping season is usually marked by Black Friday. Now, because of Thanksgivingization, the fourth Thursday of November is the beginning of the holiday shopping season. If the mark is being pushed back, then we might see Veterans Day as the new start of the holiday shopping season. Then, I'll have to write on the Veteranization of Veteran's Day!

We must resist Thanksgivingization, because it broadcasts the message of more shopping and buying instead of connecting with family and friends. The opportunity to pause and be thankful for something or someone is rare. It is rare to stop and be thankful because our culture of consumerism compels us to keep going, going, going and shop, shop, shop.

It also forces employees to work on a holiday in an industry that is not kind to family rhythms and work/life balance. Having worked in retail, I found getting a holiday off is almost impossible.

This Thanksgiving, I ask that you resist Thanksgivingization. Resist consumerism. Put down the credit card and pick up a fork with family and friends this Thanksgiving. 

OPINION: Views expressed in ABPnews/Herald columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.