COLUMN: We've destroyed what Thanksgiving is supposed to be, a day of family


Sonya Smith is a manager at Five Below in Canton, Mich. She works 8 hours a day, almost seven days a week.

Her job affords her very little time off, except holidays.

Looking forward to having those days to spend time with her family and catch up with friends who come from out of town, she waited to see her work schedule and realized she had to work Thanksgiving night and Black Friday.

Her holiday, if you can call it that, was cut short because she’s part of the new American workforce, which is at the mercy of consumers who camp out and wait to get a bargain deal on a TV.

Like millions of Americans, she’s seen her Thanksgiving destroyed by corporations that whip us, the consumer, into a frenzy by promising the “lowest prices of the year.”

Thanksgiving weekend is supposed to be a special time for families. Moments like carving the turkey, football games, pumpkin pie, parades — all of this is meant to be done with family.

But now, it seems more people are in a hurry to go shopping at night or camp out before Black Friday.

We’ve made Thanksgiving take a back seat to Black Friday deals. Stores open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and close at midnight, only to reopen at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

I know I’m young, but I remember when there were no stores open on Thanksgiving night. Sure, people did camp out before Black Friday, but it seemed people back then understood that Thanksgiving was a day to relax. Black Friday was when we did our shopping.

It’s like we’ve forgotten what Thanksgiving is for.

We’ve forgotten how to sit down and take a moment to be thankful and be with family. We’ve become so consumed with needing presents for Christmas or having to buy an iPhone because it’s on sale that we’ve forgotten to be thankful for what we have.

Our mass consumerism has destroyed Thanksgiving — not only for ourselves but for our neighbors who have to work and their families they have to leave. Some of us probably had to work or had family members who had to work.

I can understand saving money and looking for deals, but when did that replace family traditions and make us forget what Thanksgiving is really about?

We’ve made a day where we’re supposed to give thanks into a day of want. Wanting more stuff. Wanting a TV, clothes or a laptop because it’s 30 percent off. We’ve done this at the expense of ourselves and others.

Thanksgiving should be about family and Black Friday should be about shopping.

This will only change when we decide enough is enough and refuse to work and refuse to go shopping on Thanksgiving. Maybe in the future, stores will be open all day on Thanksgiving if we don’t decide enough is enough.

I think we need to ask ourselves if we really want that to be the future.