Home » OPINION » Columns » BILL CRAWFORD — Is Black Friday shopping ruining family-friendly Thanksgiving?
Shoppers browse the aisles during a Black Friday sale at a Target store in Newport, Ky., last year. John Minchillo / AP file photo

BILL CRAWFORD — Is Black Friday shopping ruining family-friendly Thanksgiving?


Happy Black Friday, er, I mean Thanksgiving.

Yes, super shopping day Black Friday seems to be more top of the mind these days than family-friendly holiday Thanksgiving. Guess that’s just another example of how our lives have become much more transactional than relational.

 “With maxims like ‘what’s in it for me’, ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine’, and ‘quid pro quo’, our society is becoming more and more transactional” says an article by lifestyle entity Victorious Living. “We did not stumble into this society. For generations, the American way has been about open market consumerism. Which as an economic exercise has certain values and benefits that do not translate well when we take the same approach to matters in other arenas.”


Traditionally, this time of year has been mostly relational with large family gatherings at grandma’s for turkey and dressing. It’s been a time for hugs, sharing family joys and griefs, and letting children play with rarely seen cousins. The most transactional aspect of this I can remember was maneuvering to get the drumstick, the best after dinner seat for football, or the recliner for a nap.

Now we are coaxed to shop early for Black Friday on the afternoon of Thanksgiving. And the long lines poised to stampede into stores when the magic time arrives are seldom family-friendly relational events. A website called BlackFridayDeathCount.com says since 2006 there have been 12 deaths and 117 injuries from Black Friday shopping.

Of course, Thanksgiving has always been a transactional event for turkeys. Even more so this year.

A story at TheConversation.com says we Americans will eat about 210 million turkeys this year. That’s up from 125 million in the 1970s. But due to innovation in turkey growing, that number won’t be 342 million this year. It seems 132 million turkeys won’t be slaughtered because modern techniques yield 25 pounds of meat per turkey versus 15 pounds in the ’70s.

Ironically, as our surging transactional behavior devalues relationships and erodes our emotional and mental health, our bodies benefit from eating healthier turkeys. You see today’s modern turkeys are barn-raised, growth hormone free, and free of antibiotic residues.


This suggests we can be thankful this year for the many benefits science has brought to our lives. More and healthier food. New life saving medicines, treatments, and medical procedures. Safer cars and trucks. And so on.

Or not.

You see much of our shift toward transactional behavior is driven by new and titillating gadgets and targeted sales methods made possible by modern science.

Here’s the ultimate buy now, buy more example – my cell phone knows and can tell me what wow gadgets I’m likely to crave and where to buy them. Whether it’s Facebook or Google ads or uninvited texts and emails, neat stuff selected just for me will appear on my phone whether I want it to or not. (Yeah, you can block some of it but it comes right back.)

You can see where all this is heading.

Unless we each purposefully keep Thanksgiving focused on giving thanks for blessings, family, and yummy food, the real turkeys on Thanksgiving will soon be us.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” – Thessalonians 5:18.

» BILL CRAWFORD is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.


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