Thanksgiving, Gratitude and Commerce

“Thanksgiving to retailers is now simply a nuisance where people dare to put family over shopping.” [1]

Like the author of that comment, I have long hoped that creeping commercialism would not overtake my most favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Beyond a few Christmas-season warning shots like televised football classics and Santa’s inflated arrival at the rear of Macy’s annual parade, Thanksgiving has remained this blissful celebration of family, friends and food; with a huge helping of thankfulness for all the metaphorical bounty of the fall harvest.

Yes, turkeys have taken much abuse. But Hallmark’s Thanksgiving cards sell modestly at best [2], there are no Thanksgiving carols on the radio, and very few people string up their Thanksgiving lights.

But the emerging success of the Black Friday marketing campaign may at last be laying siege to Thanksgiving tradition. Whole families carb-load on stuffing and mashed potatoes, in anticipation of their coordinated assault on the doors of big box stores – not early on Friday morning or even at midnight, but right after dinner if they are so inclined. No time for talking story or playing parlor games after the last dishes have been washed and put away. Shop, baby, shop!

Retail workers increasingly must forgo this one brief, scheduled moment of gratitude in order to serve their corporate masters. Some have chosen to work for personal reasons, some have publicly voiced their dissatisfaction, and some have walked out. [3][4] Still, the crowds keep on coming. At one Walmart store, a shopper – who’s also a retail worker – first sympathized with the plight of her striking peers then shrugged her shoulders and entered the store anyway, conceding that the economic realities of her Christmas budget required it. [5]

Thanksgiving is a wonderful example of us all being in it together. While we do not need a national holiday to remind us of gratitude, Thanksgiving certainly has served us well. As human beings first, we can draw a loving line in the sand on Thanksgiving morning and tell creeping commercialism, “not here, not today”. Friday has already been surrendered to the corporate cause. [6] I think Thursday can remain our day. Ultimately the choice is ours, and I am certain that the commercial interests will find creative ways to adapt.

Happy Holidays!


  1. Ants & Grasshoppers: A Black Friday rant
  2. Hallmark Corporate Information | Thanksgiving
  3. Black Friday Creep Costs Retail Workers Their Thanksgiving
  4. Walmart Strikes: Lone Worker Walks Out, Receives Trespass Warning
  5. Walmart Strike Hits 100 Cities, But Fails To Distract Black Friday Shoppers
  6. Walmart Says It Has Best Black Friday Ever Despite Protests, Crowds

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