Sacred

TurkeyFloatThis year many more stores are announcing plans to be open Thanksgiving Day. Where the day happens to fall on the calendar (Cyber Monday is actually December 1st this year) is a major reason for the shift — fewer shopping days between Turkey Day and Christmas Day. Plus there’s the generally sluggish economy, as well as the ever present need for more sales to cover increasing costs. And of course plain ole greed is a factor. Nearly everyone is starting their “Black Friday” sales sooner. Some even kicked off right after Halloween. All of this, of course, triggers a variety of emotional outbursts from certain community members and organizations.

Not to miss an opportunity some stores have even leveraged this into a self righteous marketing plan to collect the dollars of the offended by advertising that they will NOT be open on the celebrated day. If their calculated approach pays off (hint: it won’t) they can get the advantage of increased sales without suffering the operational (not to mention human) costs of having to be open.

Everyone sees the writing on the wall here. Within five years (feel free to pick your own timeframe) just as many stores and malls will be open on Thanksgiving as there are on Independence Day. Maybe more, as there is a lot more pressure to produce revenues this time of year.

And so something held as sacred by many falls by the wayside. We hold certain things that we’ve determined shouldn’t be tampered with as sacred, even when there may not be concrete religious connotations. They may be handed to us culturally or we may invent them ourselves. They represent boundaries we’ve chosen. We defend them against assault, and as such we make a choice to get offended and offer up righteous indignation when others don’t place the same level of importance on them that we do.

In reality it’s just another day. We invented it as a holiday during the Civil War. The untouchable nature of it is simply tradition, combined with a dollop of religious undertones. In fact, somewhat like Columbus Day there is a darker side to it. Increasingly large numbers of people feel it’s an insensitive representation of the celebration of the conquest and genocide of Native Americans by colonists.

Commerce has been eating away at it for decades now. For the past 10 to 20 years the media has covered more of the surrounding commercial aspects than the Thanks Day itself. It appears that’s where the story has been, and continues to be. Yet another example of something that slowly erodes until it finally reaches a tipping point where the changes become more noticeable and dramatic.

Many will be offended, and yet unwilling or unable to stop the plow of progress. Because in the end we know we just made it all up in the first place. And such is the nature of our boundaries, whether we see each one that way or not.

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