If you want to start a fight on this Thanksgiving day, tell someone that you’re going shopping this afternoon. Or tell people who are planning to shop this afternoon that should stay home instead of shopping.
In a debate such as this, there’s remarkably little room for facts or logic or even courtesy. There tends to simply be a lot of anger about people who come to different conclusions — about something as mundane as shopping.
Since there’s so much sniping about holiday shopping — from angry people on various sides — here’s my official notice of neutrality. If you want to shop on Friday (or on Thanksgiving day), I don’t care one way or the other. If you want to get into line and wait in cold and rain for days, that’s fine, too. I don’t understand it and I might make fun of you, but I don’t care.
On the other hand, if you’re angry and offended at people doing those things, I’m not going to join you, even though I find their shopping behavior odd and obsessive, too.
I’m not angry or offended at either side in this ridiculous culture war. I just don’t care what decisions people make for themselves — such as when they work or shop — about something that’s so trivial to me. I’ll just be enjoying my turkey and dressing while others argue about this.
When I was in high school in a small town, almost none of the stores were open on Sundays. There were a few convenience stores and gas stations. And there were some restaurants. But grocery stores and other major shopping was closed.
It was a legacy of the blue laws in the state. In many places around the country, various forms of such laws still exist. At one time, business couldn’t generally be conducted on Sunday in many places, because it violated religious notions about working on the Sabbath. (We’ll ignore the whole question about whether the Sabbath should have been on Saturday anyway.) But for the most part, stores were closed on Sunday, simply because many people believed it was wrong. And their belief that it was wrong was forced on other people.
Today, Thanksgiving shopping is illegal in Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts. Yes, seriously. These laws make no more sense today than the Sunday blue laws made in Jasper, Ala., when I was a teen-ager. In both cases, it’s a matter of some people trying to force their views about what’s right on other people.
As far as I know, I don’t need anything from a store today. I certainly won’t be lining up for “door-buster” sales. I’m disdainful of the materialism that I associate with this sort of shopping madness. But I respect the freedom of other people to disagree with me. I respect the right of workers to decide for themselves whether they want to work for companies that are open on Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatever.
When I was in the newspaper business, we worked on holidays. Somehow, it didn’t destroy me. And if I think of something I want from the store this evening, I’m glad I have that option.
If you don’t want to shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday or any other random day, then don’t. It’s as simple as that. But don’t tell other people what’s right for them.
I suggest you opt out of the fight over this. I certainly have. Just do what you want and leave everybody else to do as they please. Your life will be less stressful if you’ll quit worrying about whether you approve of the way other people live, work or shop.