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Kyla Cathey: Thanksgiving shouldn’t be just another Thursday

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Posted: Thursday, November 28, 2013 12:00 am

There’s a lot of talk about a war on Christmas. But the real war is against Thanksgiving, which is about to become just another shopping day.

Today, while my family and I dig into our turkey and cranberry sauce — and hopefully most of you are, too — stores around the country will be opening their doors and the hectic holiday shopping season will begin.

Too often, we rush around trying to get everything done — our day-to-day lives are packed with work, school activities, doctor’s appointments, household chores and other things that keep us busy from sun-up to sundown, with no time to pause and take stock. Thanksgiving is a time to take a deep breath, reflect on what you have and, well, give thanks. It’s day meant to be spent with friends and family, celebrating the good things in our lives.

When President Abraham Lincoln declared the first modern Thanksgiving in 1863, the United States was being torn apart by the Civil War. Yet Americans still, in the midst of war, found time to set aside a day for giving thanks and caring for those in need.

If the people of a war-torn nation could set aside a day for family, friends and gratitude, why can’t we? Too many of us spend the whole year spending money or making more money to spend. Can’t we have one day when our focus is on more important things?

But that’s too radical for corporate America — one day out of 365 when the stores are closed and Americans aren’t spending costs too much in lost profits.

This year, dozens of stores will be offering doorbusters today, and they don’t even have the decency to wait until midnight, as they have in years past. In most places, Toys ‘R Us will be opening at 5 p.m.; Best Buy, Walmart and Sports Authority will open at 6; shoppers can hit Old Navy and Sears Outlet stores at 7; and dozens more, including Target, Kohl’s, JCPenney and Macy’s, open at 8. Kmart will open at 6 a.m. and stay open all day.

This means that many of these store’s employees can’t enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with their families and friends.

Some may be fine with that. After all, they will be getting holiday pay, and with a month of shopping starting tomorrow — scratch that, today — I’m sure they can use the cash. But others may not have the choice, and that’s not right. Thanksgiving is a day for family and reflection first and foremost, and no one who chooses to prioritize those things over their jobs should be punished for it.

This also means that these corporations think of their customers as consumers first and anything else second. They open their stores on what used to be, along with Christmas, one of two days where shopping didn’t come before everything else, and then they offer sales and deals to entice people away from their friends and families.

And worst of all, many of the supposed deals aren’t even worth it.

According to CNN, the products offered in the doorbuster sales meant to lure you away from the table before the pumpkin pie is cut are kept in such short supply that most people won’t have a chance for them. Walmart is one of the few exceptions, guaranteeing prices as long as customers are in line at a certain time — but would you really rather be at Walmart for hours than playing “Yahtzee” with Grandma?

The only reason that doorbuster sales begin on Thanksgiving is that the corporate offices know that there are Americans who will sacrifice precious time with family and friends for the almighty dollar — and that they won’t even do their research first, believing stores’ claims that they are getting the best deal.

Is it worth it? That’s up to you.

But I think it’s time we remembered that the holidays — Thanksgiving and Christmas both — are about a lot more than shopping and receiving.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy your turkey as much as I will enjoy mine!

Kyla Cathey is the news editor for the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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