Remembering the meaning of THANKSgiving

Thanksgiving is meant as a time to be grateful for what you already have, not rushing to buy new items.

Julia Knies, opinion editor

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Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for being grateful—originally conceived as a huge feast after the harvest—for the bounty of nature. However, in today’s world, other activities such as Black Friday seem to be more important than taking time to express gratitude.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been a time for families to get together and spend time sharing a meal and memories, perhaps playing a family football game on the lawn, or taking a walk together after the big meal. Families bonded over the preparation of turkey, mashed potatoes and pie.

In recent years, however, the focus has shifted slightly. With the advent of Black Friday, a day set aside for shopping the day after Thanksgiving, people are shoving away their plates and rushing out the door to get the best deals.

Black Friday has become a major shopping event. It used to start Friday morning, but now many sales begin at midnight on Thanksgiving day itself,  which obliterates the time that is supposed to be dedicated to family. This has shifted the focus from gratitude to money, and people have gotten away from the whole idea of being grateful. Although Black Friday signifies the beginning of the holiday shopping season, it should not be the main focus of the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

With the rise of online shopping, Cyber Monday was created for another day of shopping. This has extended the shopping hype after Black Friday for online retail. For companies with both physical and online stores, this only gives them more opportunity to rake in the cash.

Beyond Thanksgiving, many other national holidays, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, and others, have simply become an opportunity for companies to have countless amounts of sales. These holidays meant to bring unity to the nation are no longer doing that. Even on Christmas and after holiday shopping is over, companies will have last-minute sales to make some more money.

A way to diffuse some of the hype with shopping may be by extending the holiday shopping season by a week, giving people extra time to prepare. Thanksgiving was on the fourth Thursday in November from 1863 until 1939. Then, President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided that celebrating Thanksgiving on the third Thursday of November would be better as an effort to help the economy at the end of the Depression. This, however, did not last, and in 1941, Congress insisted that the fourth Thursday should be the holiday. While everyone is used to Thanksgiving being on the fourth Thursday, moving it up a week would not make too much of a difference.

Celebrating Thanksgiving is an important event for America, but perhaps it is time to get back to the original ideas of being grateful and spending time with loved ones. Everyone loves a good sale, but Black Friday should be toned down, at least to let families spend time together instead of being distracted by shopping.