Photo by Flickr user Steve Rhodes/ Creative Commons.
Photo by Flickr user Steve Rhodes/ Creative Commons.
Photo by Flickr user Steve Rhodes/ Creative Commons.

Now that the holidays are in full swing with Thanksgiving Day on the horizon, it is time to reflect on what is important in life.

But once again, run-away consumerism, holiday marketing, and the need to keep up with the neighbors has fouled yet another traditional family gathering and celebration.

Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Day celebrations have long been tainted by the practices of big business, and the all-too-eager-to-comply, masses.

Thanksgiving always seemed a bit different though.

Thanksgiving was about family. It was about reunion, reconciliation and catching up with our closest relatives. It was about sitting down together, sharing a meal, and giving thanks.

While the traditional theme and origin of the holiday, the colonists sharing an autumn feast with Native Americans, has been lost to history, what remained was the celebration of the family.

This is what Thanksgiving Day has always meant to me and to many people, but the emergence of Black Friday over the last decade has threatened to change all that.

Black Friday – for those who have been living in another part of the galaxy – is an all-out commercial assault on the tradition, sanctity and purity of Thanksgiving.

According to a 2008 report from ShopperTrak, a consumer-trend shopping agency affiliated with the International Council of Shopping Centers, Black Friday officially became the busiest shopping day of the year in 2003.

It has remained that every year since then with the exception of 2004, which shows Black Friday is a relatively new phenomenon.

On Thanksgiving Day, and the days leading up to it, consumers are bombarded with commercial after commercial from Wal-Mart, Living Spaces, Best Buy and many other stores on television, radio, in print and online.

Black Friday has become the Thanksgiving version of the Christmas onslaught to buy, buy and buy some more.

Originally, the term “Black Friday” was used to describe the stifling traffic that many cities across the country experienced on the day after Thanksgiving, because of the commuter crunch to get home after visiting relatives.

Soon thereafter, the media adopted the phrase to describe the start of the Christmas shopping season and to symbolically mark the day retailers turned a profit for the year– the day they were “in the black.”

For some, Black Friday has become a nightmare. Reports of out-of-control mobs at shopping centers attacking each other in pursuit of that “must have” item are now commonplace.

People are literally staying up all night to shop, and stomping each other to death in the pursuit of a bargain.

Sadly, Black Friday continues to grow. WalMart recently announced the expansion of its Black Friday sales frenzy with events starting at 6 p.m. on – you guessed it – Thanksgiving Day.

Shop-happy consumers will now have to forego Thanksgiving dinner and presumably celebrate Thanksgiving lunch instead if they are going to make it in time, to stand in line, on Thanksgiving Day for the 6 p.m. opening.

When will the madness end? Judging by recent trends, probably never.
A version of this story was previously published in ELACC Campus News.

Gus Ugalde

Gus Ugalde is a print journalist and Boyle Heights native. He is a graduate of both Salesian High School and East Los Angeles College. With writing as his passion, he has had over 500 stories published...

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