I love Thanksgiving. And not just because it’s a Jewish Holiday. (Yes, I find it astonishing that the Pilgrims knew about Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah. That alone should be enough to show that what was going on here was something different.
I love it because it’s kind of an American Sukkot. I love the Macy’s Parade and the balloons. I love the National Dog Show, even though the anti-Lab bigotry runs deep. I love the Peanuts specials and the interlude before winter and the turkey and the football.
I love that the stores are closed.
One year, when I first moved out here, I went camping over the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend. I blew a tire on I-70 and coasted into Silverthorne, and was stuck riding the doughnut until Friday when I could get a new tire in Grand Junction. And that was OK, because it was Thanksgiving, and people get the day off on Thanksgiving.
Now, stores are opening Thanksgiving night, after the stuffing and the pumpkin pie, because apparently, there’s a huge sales boost to be had opening one day early. I doubt this is true – almost all those purchases would happen anyway -, but even if it were, I’d be against it. The fact that you have to go to work that night, even after the meal, can’t help but impinge on the meal itself.
I have seen all sorts of rationalizations of this creeping materialism on Facebook and elsewhere, and others who use it to bitterly denounce WalMart or capitalism in general. I don’t find any of them persuasive.
Making money, in the true sense of making it, producing wealth, is a good thing. Having a free market when people can become themselves by starting and owning their own businesses is something to be thankful for. But capitalism is, by it nature subversive. It undermines existing social structures, forcing people to adapt to new wealth, and to the competition for wealth. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, in general.
But it’s something that too many libertarians ignore or resist or excuse.
While making money is good, both in the personal and general sense, we sanctify it by pulling back from it, from time to time, not only to appreciate it, but to appreciate what we have around us. That’s a large part of what taking Thanksgiving off means.
So yes, while there can’t really be any laws forbidding those post-dinner Thanksgiving sales, I really do hope people stay home.
The stuff will still be there tomorrow.