From the moment major retailers started announcing they’d open their doors at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, I knew there would be a backlash coming. Sure enough, just hours later I began to see these supposedly compassionate posts on all social media urging us to stay at home with our families and avoid this “evil corporate scheme.”
Well, I’m here to say you can all have fun sitting at home and doing nothing. I’m heading to the stores at 5 p.m. to get some deals. Yes, I have a family. Yes, it’s nice to see them each year on Thanksgiving. Some of them, at least.
But don’t start ranting to me about how Thanksgiving is some sacred cow we shouldn’t be tampering with because of Americans’ shopping obsession. It’s one of the things that makes the holiday great.
Growing up, I always thought Thanksgiving was like Epcot. When you went to Disney World as a kid, you didn’t care for it, but your parents would say to you, “You’ll like it more when you’re older.” They were right. Epcot’s now probably my favorite place in the whole park.
But Thanksgiving? Eh, it never really grew on me. The food is sublime, of course. Any holiday that finds common use of dressing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie ranks high in my book. Most of the family moments we so often see cherished in advertisements never really happened at my place, though.
Most of the memorable conversations had little to do with how much we loved and were thankful for each other, but rather when someone stepped in a taboo topic, like politics, religion or – heaven forbid – family gossip. Those were fun bits you come to laugh about years later. There was also the year I went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a group, nearly froze to death and ate baked chicken from a convenient store in Manhattan. Good times.
Outside of those shining examples, I can’t really recall any amazing moments the holiday has produced for me personally. The bits I remember the most are rallying around the living room following the big meal to look through the mountain of ads in the newspaper. The family would all discuss which stores they were hitting up, and we’d occasionally poke fun at others for waging war to get some item the rest of the group found silly.
And then there was the waking up at 3 a.m. It was hell. Still, there were fun times to be had. I remember vividly putting leftovers in the microwave to heat up as breakfast before making our way to the lines. Then the real fun began: wrestling grandmas for TVs, snatching up the last discounted Xbox and – most recently – enjoying a midnight countdown to saving 50 bucks on a wireless printer.
People looking from the outside often shake their heads at these sad people battling the crowds and the elements to save a few bucks. What they fail to understand is saving some cash is just part of the fun. Laughing with people you’ve never met in line, helping a mother snag the last toy for her son, finding a table in a crowded Cracker Barrel the morning after – now those are some Thanksgiving memories.
Most will bicker about how employees will be forced to go in to work. True, this is a drawback, though it should be noted not all businesses “force” regular employees to come and gather up part-time to help manage the crowds. Still, for all the examples launched of dads and moms being dragged away from their families, I can give you poor souls who don’t have somewhere to go on Turkey Day who would rather work and earn some extra change.
You have a great time each year at Thanksgiving? Fine. Continue to rant about how awful Wal-Mart is for opening its doors before the big day even ends. Just know that for many, the moments made waiting for the $200 big screen TV are just as enjoyable as the rather boring ones that come from sitting around a table, waiting for the green beans to be passed to you.
Speaking for myself, I’m thankful for the family and friends in my life year round and communicate them such often. I don’t wait for the holidays to tell people how special they are to me. That’s not to say it’s not a great occasion to do it, but saving some dough and reveling in retail madness is something I can’t do everyday.
Celebrate how you want to, and if you feel like spending your Thanksgiving with me, make your way to the retail stores in Jackson, Tenn. that afternoon. You’ll find me bundled up waiting in line with a smile on my face.