It seems like everyone is upset regarding the number of stores that will be open sometime during Thanksgiving. Many of these stores, like Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart, are banking on the hope that shoppers will leave their families in order to take advantage of early “door buster” savings. Since this happened in 2012 stores expect this to be the case this year.
The early openings have, as you can guess, led to many to claim that Thanksgiving is being taken over by corporate interest. Others claim it is unfair for workers to be forced to work and to be separated from their families. Both are valid points. It is difficult to see stores open on a day that is about family and the connection that comes around the table.
However, if we were to be truly honest some of the blame falls upon our shoulders. The reason stores have opened up earlier and earlier on Black Friday and have now reached into the late-evening hours of Thanksgiving is because we demanded this to happen. It is basic supply and demand. The more time we are willing to separate ourselves from our family and invest ourselves in the culture of consumerism means the more time stores are willing to give in order to supply our need to spend money.
Let me explain this through way of an illustration. A couple of years ago my wife and I could not travel for Thanksgiving because she had to work on Friday. We went to a Thanksgiving meal at church and then drove home. In order to get home we had to drive past the Fayette Mall shopping area in Lexington. We took a look over at Best Buy and people were already lined up around the store for the early-morning deals on new televisions and video games. It was probably 6 p.m. or so in the evening.
I’m sure the Lexington location was not the only place where this happened. If we are willing to give up our Thanksgiving evenings to sit on folding chairs in the freezing cold to wait for a store to open, then what reason do we have to be upset at a store willing to adjust its opening times to meet our demand?
However, what we can do, and I believe we need to, is reevaluate our consumeristic mindset, especially when it comes to Christmas. We have made Christmas into something it is not. Christmas is not about getting the best deal on the “must have” item of the year. It is not about rushing to the mall to check off items on lists and to purchase gifts we cannot afford. It is not about overdoing it to the point that we forget what Christmas is all about.
Christmas is about the very simple and perfect. It is about a birth that changed the way we see the world and continues to do so today. It is about the incarnation of Christ in the world. It is about the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Until we, and I am including followers of Christ in this, are willing to let Christmas be about Christmas then we will continue to allow the culture to define Christmas for us. We will continue to allow our spending on gifts be the way that makes a “good Christmas.”
Even more, we will continue to see stores open “earlier and earlier” because we have a demand for something that is contrary to the very life-giving nature of Christmas.