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Happy Black Friday Eve

**I originally published this post for Thanksgiving 2011.Given the recent hoopla about stores now opening on Thanksgiving instead of waiting until Black Friday, clearly the situation has not changed for the better.**

Thanksgiving is not a sexy holiday. Any holiday when you stuff your face, waddle away from the table and loosen your pants before flopping onto the couch can’t be. Thanksgiving doesn’t have twinkling lights and over-the-top decorations, although I have noticed an increased number of inflatable turkeys on the lawns in our neighborhood. Thanksgiving has become a blip on the calendar. Christmas décor begins gracing store shelves in early October. Christmas themed commercials begin airing before we’ve even finished off the last of the leftover Halloween candy. The annual auditory assault of incessant Christmas music now begins before Thanksgiving.It’s no surprise that with the Christmas marketing blitz that begins earlier every year, the meaning of Thanksgiving is getting lost in the glitzy, tinsel covered shuffle. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It doesn’t require gifts or cards. You don’t need anything special to celebrate this holiday. Anyone can do it. All you have to do is spend some time, either before the turkey or after, reflecting on the good things in your life. It’s a day to come together with people you love (and maybe some people you can tolerate for a few hours once a year) to share a meal of traditional comfort foods. Unfortunately, because advertisers can’t sell gratitude, the meaning of Thanksgiving is being overlooked.

I work with adolescents and reminded them that we would not be meeting on Thursday or Friday. To my great surprise they asked me why we wouldn’t be meeting on those days. This sparked a conversation that made my toes curl.

“We have off because Thursday is a holiday. What holiday is it?” I asked trying to jog their memories.

“I know,” said an eager young man, “it’s Black Friday.”

Unable to believe what I had heard, I repeated his statement, “Black Friday is this Thursday,” adding emphasis to the word Thursday hoping that would be enough to make him realize his mistake.

The young man’s eyes flashed with the recognition of his error and he said, “Oh, that’s right. Black Friday is this Friday, not Thursday. Duh!”

The other young man in the group then asked, “Why do we have off on Thursday then?”

Before I could intervene, the first young man answered, “We have off Thursday to get ready so we can go to the stores at midnight.” He then looked at me and very sweetly asked, “Do you celebrate Black Friday, Miss?”

I was processing the idea that these young men think that Black Friday is a holiday and before I could collect my thoughts to answer his question, the other young man in the group spoke up, “She doesn’t celebrate Black Friday! Remember? She’s Jewish.”

I felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone or maybe I was being Punk’d. Not one of the kids had said a word about Thanksgiving. They actually believed that Black Friday is the holiday. We have two days off to conserve our energy, prepare our lists and map out our shopping strategies. Apparently all the stuffing and mashed potatoes we eat on Thanksgiving Thursday are just carbo-loading for the upcoming shopping marathon on the real holiday, Black Friday. To them, Thanksgiving is just Black Friday Eve. I was about to explain their misunderstanding when someone else in the group spoke up. “Miss, what happens when Black Friday isn’t on a Friday? Do they call it something else?”

I looked around for a video camera. Were they kidding me? They had to be. How can a holiday as important as Thanksgiving be completely lost on the younger generation? Pilgrims? Native Americans? A harvest feast? Doesn’t that ring any bells?

I felt it was my patriotic duty to explain the history and meaning of Thanksgiving to these young Americans. With the hype and constant commercials emphasizing Black Friday sales, it is no wonder they think that is the holiday we are celebrating.

** I’m grateful to each of you for taking time out of your busy days to read my posts throughout the year. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! **

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

37 responses »

  1. Just catching up on your posts instead of focusing on Teachscape. This one was a sad commentary on what is valued today. Hope you enjoyed the snow day.

    • I’m glad I could offer you a distraction from work 🙂 I made fun of this topic, but it is a sad commentary on what is valued today. Judging from how many people went shopping on Thanksgiving, I don’t think the situation is going to improve any time soon. It’s really a shame.

  2. i know about American Thanksgiving, and i am not even an American! even Charlie Brown knows about it, too. i have watched the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special a couple of times now.
    Black Friday is hitting us here north of the 49th parallel as well, which is really odd because our Thanksgiving is in October, and it is not followed by anything remotely similar. But this post was too funny, albeit very sad, too. It is true that you cannot market an attitude of gratitude. but it is nice to know that here and there, there are still those people who display it winningly anyhow. glad you were able to fill the kids in.
    i missed this post on the first go-round, so thank you for sharing it again! Happy Thanksgiving, belatedly, and Hanukkah to you and yours!

    • I almost wish they would switch American Thanksgiving to October like you have in Canada. Maybe that would minimize all the craziness of Black Friday. It’s truly gotten out of control.

      Thanks for the belated holiday wishes. Oregano and I are happy to accept good wishes anytime for any reason 🙂

      Have a wonderful Christmas season filled with love and joy!

  3. It was great to re-read your post from a few years ago. It is truly sad that retail has taken over this country mostly in the minds of our children – What’s in it for me? Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because it is all about family. I recall my grandmother’s table set with the big turkey and every other dish you would expect and then some. Today I am thankful for time with family when we all give thanks for each other and our good fortune. Thankfully, the importance of this day has been passed on to all in our family. Love you!

  4. You can’t make this £€¥# up! Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukah too!


  5. The only shopping I plan to do around Thanksgiving is on my Kindle. I plan to spend my holiday weekend curled up with a good book. Happy Thanksgivukkah!

  6. A sad commentary, but well told, Paprika. My family don’t shop on Thanksgiving Day – or on Christmas. I woke up early several years ago to go shopping on Black Friday and wound up buying things I didn’t need. In one case, I also didn’t use and gave it to someone else.

    Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to you and yours. 🙂

    • I don’t remember there being this much hype about Black Friday when I was growing up, but Oregano pointed out that it was the case then, too. He used The Charlie Brown Christmas special as his supporting evidence.

      For the life of me, I don’t see the appeal of fighting the mob scene in the malls and stores on Black Friday.

      I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love and turkey!

  7. HA! You beat me to this idea – early repost! I really like this one – both then and now. Hope your Thanksgiving is stellar

    • I’ve never re-posted before, but all of the commercials about the stores opening on Thanksgiving just made me cringe and feel the need to re-post. I’m glad you enjoyed it even though it was a re-run.

      Have a fabulous Thanksgiving filled with love and turkey.

  8. Wow….Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and Hannukah all converging at the same time. You’ll probably need a whole semester for the kids to sort that one out. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hannukah to you and Oregano. P.S. Your column is just like most of the TV stations this week–reruns. The difference being I enjoy reading your column, I don’t watch TV this week.

    • It’s quite a festive week for all of us! I’m not even sure I completely understand how Hanukkah and Thanksgiving ended up at the same time, let alone try to explain that to someone else. I’ll never understand the eccentricities of the Jewish calendar.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post even if it was a re-run. Don’t worry, I don’t have re-runs nearly as often as TV shows do.

      Happy Hanukkah and Happy Thanksgiving to you and June!

  9. Vivian Landsburg

    Paprika, I have one more thing to add to my “Thankful” list, and that is your blog. I know you have good family to celebrate with because I was fortunate enough to know some of them. I really look forward to your blog, and I hope you have a very happy holiday season and a very happy year.
    Vivian Landsburg

  10. I love Thanksgiving too. Definitely my favorite by far. Sadly, though, I remain UNshocked by that exchange you had. If it were up to me I would make the students take exams testing them about the holidays for which they are going to be on vacation…Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day…you get the picture. It’s driving me more and more nuts year after year that people associate these holidays with sales as opposed to their more somber meanings.

    • I like your idea of making sure that students (and the population in general) know the meanings of the holidays for which they enjoy a day off. Better yet, perhaps shoppers should have to take a quiz to earn their discounts when shopping on those holidays. That might be just the motivation they need.

      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  11. Wow – that had my jaw hitting the floor! Truth is stranger than fiction!

  12. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Wow, talk about Commercialism at its worst, eh?! SO… you said that you’d originally written this piece two years ago. Did you ever fill in the blanks here, or what?!

  13. That conversation, as incredulous as it was, does not surprise me. The images of shopping on TV far outweigh the images of Thanksgiving. In fact, I get a kick out of the imagery of a woman bringing a huge, perfectly golden-brown, in-tact turkey to the dinner table. Shouldn’t someone be carving the turkey in the kitchen, so people can actually take a portion?

    • If you carve the turkey in the kitchen, you miss out on the Norman Rockwell moment of bringing the bird to the table. My guess is that they present the bird in all its glory then take it back into the kitchen to carve it.

  14. We are on our way up north for Black Friday and that other holiday right before it. Once again this blog made me LOL and also made Sandy LOL. He especially related to the conversations you had with the teens. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving 🙂 and keep those blogs coming!


  15. Still one of my favorites!

  16. You are right; the big excitement is the shopping, If they are grateful for anything it is that they’re thankful to have enough money to shop, spend, buy. Yuk…

    • Yep, people are grateful for sales and savings. Totally missing the point of the holiday. The commercial that makes me really annoyed is the one where a family is waiting outside a store on Thanksgiving while the mother serves Thanksgiving dinner on paper plates.

      Happy Thanksgiving, Ronnie!

  17. Although we don’t celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’ down here, I think we ought to… definitely not in a hyper-commercialised spending-spree and face-stuffing kind of way, but I like your idea of spending some time with loved ones, being grateful and thankful for all the good things we *do* have in our lives. As to the Black Friday madness, that’s just scary…

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Paprika & Oregano.

    • Thanks, Reggie.

      Thanksgiving really is a lovely holiday, at least when you consider what it is supposed to be. We could all do with spending a few more days a year being grateful for the good things we have.

      The Black Friday madness is scary. On Friday, there will be news reports with helicopters flying over parking lots at malls showing how crowded they are. There will invariably be at least one story about someone getting trampled trying to get a deal when the store opens its doors.

      I know you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in South Africa, but I hope you have many blessings in your life to be thankful for 🙂


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