Thanksgiving, to me, is an eating holiday. It’s nice to have time off from school, be free of obligations, relax with loved ones and eat excessive amounts of carbs without shame. In essence, Thanksgiving is a holiday like any other.
Well, not really.
As children, we are inculcated with what are, frankly, blatantly whitewashed and one-sided stories of the holiday’s origins and its meaning. This storytelling creates a cheerful atmosphere, but the reality is actually more grim.
While the main message of Thanksgiving is obviously to come together and give gratitude, I think my generation believes the holiday is a bit misguided. We feel a sort of a cultural identity crisis when celebrating the day, not only because of its history but because of the aggressive consumer culture of Black Friday.
Nowadays, Thanksgiving is overshadowed by the ruthless commercialization of the winter holidays, with the timing of Thanksgiving used as an excuse to market items including new video games, power drills and high-definition televisions. It would be one thing to have the mad shopping craze that is Black Friday at any other time, but to have such a display of consumer culture and greed rub up next to a holiday that’s supposed to be focused on gratitude — the exact opposite — is disgusting. My generation is able to see feedback from other cultures about this juxtaposition through meme culture and on social media, and we are mocked for it! Is this really the image we want of America?
I am certain we would be no worse off as a society if Thanksgiving were given the sort of respect as a holiday it deserved. Let people who work in retail spend time with their families; they are not machines. We need people to be able to really spend time with their families and give thanks, rather than rush off to shop at stores after a meal.
I am hopeful limitations revolving around the coronavirus pandemic will dissuade people from shopping on Black Friday and let them truly reflect on what Thanksgiving should mean. I hope we will show gratitude — and not just for one day.