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Come together for Thanksgiving

On Thursday of next week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving.

Traditionally, it is the day to give thanks as the Pilgrims did way back in 1621. For college students, it means a short break before the final climb to finals week. For others, it means that winter is fast approaching. For some, the coming of Thanksgiving means that Black Friday is here.

To those unfamiliar with American culture, Black Friday may sound like a holy day. Not quite. Here in America we have this little unofficial name for the day after Thanksgiving, and it hasn’t got the slightest bit to do with religion.

On this day after Thanksgiving, people tend to come out in droves to go shopping because the stores put many of their products on sale.

What exactly happens on the Friday morning following this day of thanks? Imagine the Running of the Bulls. Only there are no bulls, just people. All of these people attempt to charge into a store at the same time. The result is chaos.

What happens is that there are products on sale all over. People try to save money and make a purchase for a good price. The idea is sound. Buy something when it is on sale. If you’re an economist, this may look good too. You get the market place going really good with all of this business. It is capitalism at its best.

However, the timing is off and the manner in which this all occurs is off. First, I will tackle the latter issue. I decided to see how Black Friday operated a few years back. I got there nice and early and waited for the doors to open. It was chaos in motion.

The scene inside that store was like a pack of wolves in a chicken coop. People were rushing left and right, paying no mind to anyone but themselves. It was truly “survival of the fittest”. Arguments on who grabbed what item first, arguments on who got to that check-out aisle first, rude “get out of the ways!” from people pushing shopping carts like their lives depended on it.

I didn’t buy anything that morning. While being out at that hour of the morning didn’t bother me, about the only thing I really enjoyed about that morning was watching the sun rise.

Then, there is the issue of timing for Black Friday. The fact that made the above experience almost comical was the timing. To think that these same people who were ready to do their best Rocky impression on the person that had cut in front of them were people that had been giving thanks not 24 hours prior.

This is not going to change, though. In our America society, change is very slow to come about. It is even slower to be accepted. So, Black Friday will remain as is.

With that thought in mind, I think we need a little reminder on what is important. To put some things in perspective, how dumb does it look and sound when you see the number of people were injured or killed on Black Friday? Does it strike anyone as bizarre that we have a casualty report for a day of shopping? Does it strike anyone as ironic that after a day of putting things in perspective, we reverse routes and go crazy over something that is relatively small?

Alright, if we are going to a have a big shopping day, so be it. Let this be capitalism at work. That said, we can not and must not lose perspective of the time preceding Black Friday. The holiday is not this unofficial Black Friday, but Thanksgiving.

We are looking back and giving thanks that we are still able to celebrate the things in life that we have. What are the most important things that we have? No, not material objects. A person does not need that new TV. It is a nice thing to have but it is not an essential basic human need.

What we have is each other. You and me. When you are that dinner table with your family, look around. We are surrounded by family members that are capable of loving us unconditionally. We are surrounded by friends that support us.

We are thankful for the fact that we are able to have a Thanksgiving dinner. Not all people, even within the boundaries of our own country, have the luxury of saying that.

When one thinks about it, this really puts into perspective all that we really do have and all that we can do to make it so that those that cannot enjoy these luxuries may be able to someday.

So while, you are out shopping on Black Friday, enjoy yourselves. However, at the end of the day, don’t forget what luxuries you enjoy that enabled you to even make the trip to that store. Remember what the real holiday is: Thanksgiving.

Matt Kushi is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at mkushi@student.umass.edu.

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