Not thankful for ‘Gray Thursday’

It used to seem like a joke. As we watched the post-Thanksgiving marketing expand, I once quipped that the time would come that the November holiday would one day become “Black Friday Eve.”

In a grim sort of way, it seemed humorous – at least at the time.

Each year, however, the stores continued to open earlier. The sale hours slipped further back into the pre-dawn until doors began opening at midnight. That, at least, should be the limit, I thought. It’d be a bit hard to have a post-Thanksgiving sale any earlier than a few seconds after Thanksgiving.

OK, so it certainly wasn’t the first time that I was wrong.

A couple of years ago, some stores began opening Thursday night.  Few advertisements mentioned Thanksgiving. It seemed that “Black Friday Eve” was upon us.

I will admit that I haven’t heard that reference – at least not yet. A couple of weeks ago, however, I did see a new term for the fourth Thursday in November.

The event formerly known as Thanksgiving was now, according to the ad, “Gray Thursday.” Holiday? What holiday?

Perhaps “Off-White Wednesday” is next.

Many people enjoy the Friday shopping rush. It’s become one of their annual traditions. That’s fine.

It’s not one of our traditions. Another family member talked my wife into going once. She arose long before dawn on a perfectly good day off. After setting off in the November darkness, she returned hours later, summing up her experience in two words.

“Never  again!”

Losing sleep to be jostled in crowds of people frantically scrambling for holiday savings had little appeal for her. You just can’t get some people in the holiday spirit.

Some of us also find it a bit annoying that on Thanksgiving, a day intended as a time for families to gather and count their blessings, countless people who work in retail are now required, instead, be preparing to report for a holiday night shift.

I’m thankful that people have jobs and that store employees might even have a chance to add a few hours to their paychecks. I do wonder how many corporate folks who came up with the idea of opening stores at midnight or before are out there laboring in the aisles in the pre-dawn darkness. Instead, just perhaps, a few are taking a four-day vacation from their corner offices.

Christmas shopping can be fun. Searching for and finding the right item that you know a loved one or friend will enjoy can be a special holiday moment.

It is not, however, the only holiday moment. Shopping is not the reason for the season.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are supposed to be times when people come together and spend time with those who matter most to them. At Thanksgiving, at Christmas or at any other time, what matters most is to give our time and our love to others.

The most important gift isn’t something you can find on a sale rack on Gray Thursday or Black Friday or any other time. The most important thing that we can give is ourselves.

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