In the words of the great state of Texas, “bigger is better,” and on the all-American holiday of Thanksgiving, big is the essence of the package deal. From 30-pound turkeys to thousand dollar shopping sprees, Thanksgiving has become a commercialized buffet.
All you can eat feasts are followed by football marathons and Black Friday sales as early as Thanksgiving morning, leaving little time to say grace. Instead, Americans are encouraged to spend hefty sums on material pleasures. Recently, an attitude has arisen that accentuates this new behavior: to be slothful and gluttonous. But since when did practicing gluttony demonstrate thanks?
The Thanksgiving meal is a staple of the holiday. With its origins dating to the 1621 Pilgrims’ feast with members of the Native American Wampanoag tribe, Thanksgiving dinner is known for its ample portions and emphasis on family. In 2014, the U.S. News & World Report found that on average $2.4 billion is spent on Thanksgiving dinner. Similarly, Walmart has reported that 150 million pounds of turkey and ham are sold at Walmart each year.
While the holiday offers an opportunity for families to gather and often reunite, the emphasis placed on indulging is quite distasteful. Families should be saying thanks for what they have rather than celebrating a holiday that perpetuates a need for more. The mass quantities of food seem more like an exhibition of extravagance than a demonstration of thanks.
The rise of Black Friday has especially drawn attention to Thanksgiving’s overindulgence. A reported 10 Americans have died on Black Friday in frenzied crowds (U.S. News & World Report). Furthermore, over 105 shoppers have reported injuries. In addition, Black Friday hours have begun to grow out of hand. Some stores, like Bass Pro Shops, open as early as 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. Despite these hours encroaching on precious holiday time, shoppers continue to buy into the hype. U.S. News & World Report reported that an average of 140.1 million shoppers were expected on Thanksgiving weekend in 2014. This number jumped to 154 million shoppers in 2016.
Even companies that wait until Thanksgiving evening to open their doors fuel a growing thanklessness on the holiday. Wanting to be the first in line, many people rush through Thanksgiving festivities to make it to the stores in time. This encouraged consumerism has tainted a prominent national holiday. Rather than stuffing plates and knocking over shoppers, Thanksgiving should be a time to reminisce on history and praise opportunity. But until Americans realize that this Thanksgiving problem has gotten out of hand, nothing will be done to stop it.