Why Turning Thanksgiving Day into Shopping Day is un-American

Okay, that title might be a little extreme, but bear with me. I’m kind of upset about this whole “stores opening for Black Friday on Thanksgiving Day” thing.

My feelings go beyond mere nostalgia for Thanksgivings past. Our nationally observed holidays erode, gradually but certainly, with every wave of unending commerce. It’s a regrettable and embarrassing move that suggests what we value most is not in fact family, religion, history, or even the cherished notion that God has blessed America. Instead, for us there is no day so sacred that it would keep us from standing in long lines under the glow of fluorescent lights to get a flat-screen TV…while others must stock the shelves and man the registers.

It is perhaps not insignificant that President Abraham Lincoln established a regular date for a nationally observed day of Thanksgiving while the Civil War was still raging; Thanksgiving celebrations had occurred at different times in different (mostly Northern) states for many, many years, but it was not yet a national holiday. In his Proclamation of Thanksgiving, Lincoln urged people to consider that even amid the ravages of war, God had blessed America with “fruitful fields and healthful skies,” and that, even in the nation’s suffering, God had “nevertheless remembered mercy.” It was only fitting and proper, he said, that God’s mercies

should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

Lincoln also urged that along with giving thanks, Americans should confess to their part of the “national perverseness and disobedience” leading to the Civil War; make sure to give aid and compassion to those bereaved by the war; and pray for its swift end, the healing of the nation’s wounds, and a return to “full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, [sic] and Union.”


Somehow I think he might regard the stories of the shrieking mobs surging “through in a blind rush for holiday bargains” and trampling a Wal-Mart employee to death in the process as falling somewhat short of both American and religious ideals.

{This is a small snippet of a post I have up at the Christianity Today her.meneutics blog.}

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