Black Friday Consumerism

Who’s Responsible for Hijacking Thanksgiving?

By Elise Daniel

Do you remember last year when store like J.C. Penney, Michael’s, Old Navy, and Toys ‘R’ Us opened their doors for Black Friday before Thanksgiving dinner? Kmart even opened at dawn on Thursday and stayed open forty-two hours straight.

This year looks similar. According to, the list of stores opening on Thanksgiving Day is longer than the list of stores closed on the family holiday.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to family and thankfulness for what we already have, but now it seems to be about cutting family time short to go get more stuff. Who or what is responsible for turning Black Friday into Black Thursday and Friday?

Some might blame this on capitalism, but one can love the freedom and innovation of capitalism and hate the materialism of consumerism.

Our obsession with things and products is making it harder to appreciate family and tradition. However this isn’t because capitalism promotes consumerism. Capitalism is just an economic system—an imperfect one—that reflects the values we put into it, so if we feed it consumerism, that’s what we’ll get.

We, the consumers, are guilty of turning Thanksgiving into a consumerist holiday.

Even though consumers are the culprits, this doesn’t mean everyone who participates in Black Thursday is guilty of consumerism.

Many retail workers appreciate the opportunity to make extra money on the holiday to better provide for their families, and many shoppers only want to take advantage of sales for family Christmas gifts in order to be good stewards of their money. Last year, some malls threatened to fine each store $1,100 per hour if they remained closed on Thanksgiving, so some owners may not have much of a choice.

But if you’re wondering if you should leave Thanksgiving dinner before the pie is served to buy that new, state-of-the-art television you’ve had your eye on, think about it this way.

God has called us to follow him through our callings to our family, church, community, and vocation. However, God doesn’t tell us in the Bible how many hours per week to spend with our families or at work, let alone whether or not we should go shopping on Thanksgiving.

But I’m reminded of Ecclesiastics 3, “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” The question at hand is one of prudence—what is the appropriate thing to do on a day like Thanksgiving?

To that question, different people have different answers. But if you believe the sales should wait, you can view your decision to not participate in Black Thursday as a vote against consumerism. That’s why this year, stores like REI are banning black Friday all together.

The responsibility falls on us. We can choose to turn Thanksgiving into a day of buying stuff or we can choose to protect the holiday tradition of family and thankfulness.

The good news is, if you want to save Thanksgiving from consumerism, all you have to do is stay home and eat turkey with your family.

Adapted from the IFWE blog.

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