A lot of people are getting fed up with the way America’s retailers are forever pushing back the start of “black Friday” – that Friday after Thanksgiving which represents the largest retail sales day of the year. Starting some years ago, retailers started opening up earlier and earlier on Friday morning, offering “door buster” deals for those people willing to get there at the crack of dawn. Trouble is, each retailer tried to out-do the other – and now we have a lot of major retailers who are planning on opening on Thanksgiving Day, itself.
I’m not quite sure where this bright idea came from – given that I work in corporate America, my guess is a second-level corporate exec managed to produce some numbers which alleged that opening up an hour earlier you can grab some tiny percentage more of consumer’s disposable income – income which might be spent at other retailers if everyone opened up at the same time. I highly doubt that this opening up earlier and earlier actually increases sales – more than likely it just spreads the sales out over a longer period of time. At any rate, the corporate execs who thought it up are, likely, the products of business schools who are rising to the top not based on skill or ability but simply on the fact that when they first were inserted in to junior management post-college they were befriended by someone a step higher on the corporate ladder and just rose along with them year by year (with only those entirely screwing up along the way losing their place on the ladder). Essentially, they are just “managers” who don’t actually know what it is their troops do for a living (anyone who has worked long in corporate America is continually astounded by how executive decisions bear little connection to reality – but before any of you liberals out there consider this an indictment of the private sector, I point out that the level of senior obtuseness is vastly higher in government); most importantly, the corporate executives who are commanding their troops to give up their holiday for the sake of a 0.01% increase in gross sales won’t be there while the troops are at work – for the most part, they’ll be home with their families, enjoying Thanksgiving.
Naturally, labor unions – ie, those who helped destroy GM and are in the process of helping to destroy Hostess – are jumping on this issue as a means of garnering good press for themselves. Sundry liberals are also all over the issue because it goes along with their general Evil Big Corporation meme which totally ignores the fact that most leaders of corporate America are liberals and donate heavily to liberal causes (it also ignores such facts as that liberals are proud to have bailed out corporate failures like GM). But leaving aside the asinine reasons that liberals and unions are backing the “Black Friday Strike”, I do believe the general idea has merit.
Human beings, as far back as we can record, have set aside days of the year for celebrations. Jews and Christians, of course, have always held that one day a week – the Sabbath – was a day of no work, but in addition to that weekly break both Jews and Christians (and Christians much more than Jews) had a plethora of holidays throughout the year. A lot of these were local affairs, as when a town might celebrate the birthday of a patron saint, but some of them were general to Christian civilization – and for Christians the two weeks around Christmas and New Years was essentially a two week, annual vacation for all and sundry. People need these holidays – I mean, heck, God commanded us to take a day off! But even outside theological considerations, everyone just needs a certain amount of time each year to lay off work and enjoy himself. All in all, I’ll bet that if it was mapped out by scholars it could be shown that the Medieval serf had as many and perhaps more days off per year than the average American does these days: and days off were days off…not days to get the laundry done, repair the house and get the kids to soccer practice.
Around about the time we entered the industrial revolution, though, holidays and days off began to disappear. Big, impersonal institutions don’t really like them: and big corporations and big governments are big, impersonal organizations. This is why, for instance, we no longer celebrate the birth of Washington on Washington’s birthday and Lincoln on Lincoln’s birthday – we celebrate all Presidents on a set Monday each February. You younger folks out there might not realize it, but once upon a time (and when I was a child) we had two holidays each February – one for each of those Presidents. You also might not be aware that things used to pretty much shut down on Sundays – everything was closed. You hung out with friends and family; went to Church, had a large meal…took it easy. Now we work 7 days a week and our last shreds of holidays are disappearing. And for what? Has our overall economy really been improved by working on Sundays? By foregoing our holidays? By having less time for family and more time to line up for the latest I-Gizmo at the mall?
I wish the people who propose to strike on Thanksgiving well. I wish them success – and I wish their effort to spread like wildfire around the nation. Heck with a bunch of working on holidays – and Sundays. Take a day off, for crying out loud – and not just “off” to go do stuff, but “off” to do nothing particular. You need it. It can’t possibly improve things to work 7 days a week and probably makes them worse – any alleged increase in national wealth (which I bet can be proven fictional once all factors are taken in to consideration) is not worth the extra strain on individuals and families. The world will not end on Friday morning if our retailers remain closed all day Thursday.
It is time, my friends, that we started taking back control of our lives – and that means being, at least from time to time, in a place where no one has a call upon us, save God. Whether it be the compulsion to work or the tantalization of slick marketing, we need some days set aside where neither are operational – where a man and a woman are left to themselves and their families and their friends…and their God. It would be the genuine start of the revolution – a revolution which is the only proper sort of revolution to have: a restoration of the good things which used to be but have been taken away from us by the greedy and the base.