Many people are upset with the fact that many storeas are now going to be open on Thanksgiving Day in order for people to shop. & many store employees are unhappy that they will now have to work on Thanksgiving instead of being home with their families.
I have to say that I sympathise with those employees & know what it is like to work retail on Thanksgiving. But to explain why, we have to go back to the 1980s.
At that time I worked at the DBQ Zayre
, a discount department store chain. Zayre was open for part of the day on Thanksgiving. I worked several of those holidays. Some years it was busy in the afternoon, others it wasn't. & it was mostly women who didn't want to stay home while the men watched football.
I will admit that those of us who did work would have prefered the day off. But since it wasn't all day, we still had plenty of time for family. & we all dreaded what is now known as "Black Friday". FYI: Black Friday gets its name from the fact that it is the Christmas season sales that ensure a retail store will end up the fiscal year in the black.
When I started in '79 the chain was open 24 hours a day for the last week or 2 before Christmas. By the time the chain was bought out in 1989 they openned on Thanksgiving & stayed open 24-7 until Christmas Eve.
This was in the 80s, so this was the exception rather than the rule. Now being open on Thanksgiving is becoming the rule. & Black Friday has devolved to beginning earlier & earlier, even as early as Midnite.
Given the economy, I can't say as I totally fault the stores for wanting to ensure they make a profit. With the problems with the economy, despite claims to the contrary, people just don't have the money to spend like when the economy is good. So retailers do need to try harder to draw in more sales.
But the entire blame can't be put at their feet. Much of it must be blamed on the customers. who are demanding the earlier openings & the better prices so their money can go farther.
In some places, customers are already camping out for those sales. Why? Because they know that many of the bargains have a limitted supply. So, because Christmas has become more about material goods, than the celebration of Christ's birth, greed gets the better of many people & they are more concerned about keeping their children from whining & acting like spoiled brats than teaching them the true meaning of both Thanksgiving & Christmas.*
But we also have to go back to the 1940s & earlier to see the roots of how we have got to where we are today. Before 1939 Thanksgiving was celebrated on the last Thursday in November in the USA. This date was set by presidential proclamation, not law. (It is currently the 2nd Monday in October in Canada but was scheduled on various dates in October & November before 1957. Does anyone know whay the 2nd Monday in October was chosen, other than more often than not it was that date before 1957? TH2???) At that time the Christmas shopping season began the day after Thanksgiving. Why do you think Santa closes the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade? While most Novembers had 4 Thursdays this wasn't a problem. But for some, like in 1939 there were 5, making the Christmas season shorter. That is why, in 1939, FDR made it the 4th Thursday instead of the 5th it would normally have been. He did so because of the continuing effects of the depression on retail sales.. (Sound like history is repeating itself.) The next 2 years ('40 & '41) Roosevelt moved it up to the 3rd Thursday. In response to that, Congress passed a law in '41 permanently setting the holiday on the 4th Thursday in November. (& if the economy continues as is, I fully expect a push to move Thanksgiving to the 3rd Thursday, a-la Roosevelt.)
So, while Black Thurdsay is wrong, it is a sympton, not the root cause of what is really wrong with America & how we celebrate Thanksgiving.
We must get back to making Thanksgiving the holiday it was meant to be. But that won't be done unless we return this country to its Christian roots so we see the real purpose behind the holiday, giving thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed on us, not the start of the Christmas shopping season.*
To understand what Thanksgiving is really supposed to be, we have to go back to the start of Thanksgiving in America.
Hopefully, everyone knows the story of the 1st Thanksgiving. & no, it was not in 1921 at Plymouth Plantation.
The 1st Thanksgiving was held on 8 September 1565 in St. Augustine FL. It included a Catholic Mass. (see sketch below) There was also a feast of thanksgiving with Timucua Indians. They dined on bean soup.
So, from the 1st, we see that there has been a religious note to the celebration. & that the 1st celebration included Mass & the Eucharist should be no surprize either. Eucharist comes from the Greek noun εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), meaning "thanksgiving".
Starting in 1607, Thanksgiving celebrations were held in the colony of Virginia. The Berkeley Hundred charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a "day of thanksgiving" to God.
Then in 1621 at Plymouth Plantation we had what was their 1st Thanksgiving. Over the years, various days of Thanksgiving to God were declared by various colonies.
The Continental Congress declared the 1st day of Thanksgiving in 1777. The 1st draft was written by Samuel Adams. The final version said the following:
"FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:
It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth "in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.
And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion."
Something tells me that they wouldn't look too kindly on how comercialized the holiday has become.
Throughout the war, several more days of Thanksgiving to God were appointed by Congress.
On 25 September 1978, Congressman Elias Boudinot from New Jersey proposed that the House and Senate jointly request of President Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for “the many signal favors of Almighty God”. Boudinot explained why, saying that he “could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them.” On 3 October 1789, President Washington did so. The next declaration came in 1975. John Adams issued similar declarations in 1798 & 1799.
The next Thanksgiving was declared in 1814 by President Madison at the end of the War of 1812. He did so in response to resolutions from Congress. He made a similar declaraion in 1815.
From 1816 to 1859 no national days were declared. However from 1817 on state governors began to do so. It grew to the point where, by 1858 proclamations appointing a day of thanksgiving were issued by the governors of 25 states & two territories.
The next national declaration was made by President Lincoln in 1863. He set it on the final Thursday in November. In it he said "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. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union."
From then on we have seen an annual Thanksgiving day.
I know those who try to drive God out of the public square may not like it, It is very clear that from 1656 that Thanksgiving day has been meant to be a day to give thanks to Almighty God for all of the blessings He has bestowed on us.
But it is also clear that, from the start of this country as an independent nation, this day is also meant to be a day of repentance & penance. We see that in the 1777 declaration where Congress asked "the good People" of the United States to not only give thanks, but that "they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance."
Lincoln echoed this when he called on his fellow citizens in every part of the USA & abroad to "with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union."
Penitant Confession of manifold Sins along with humble penitance for our national perverseness & disobedience sounds exactly like what we need today.
Our nation has turned its back on God. We allow over 1.2 million abortions a year. This country is rejecting God's definition of marriage & family as well as promoting all kinds of immorality.
Yes, the crass materialism that we are seeing turn Thanksgiving from what it was meant to be is a part of the modern national perverseness & disobedience. But it is only 1 part.
We must turn back to God, doing as our founding Fathers said. We must penitentially confess the manifold sins of this nation. We must repent of them & sincerely ask God's forgiveness for the sins of our nation. We who are God's people must lead the way. "And my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make
supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked
ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal
their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14, Douay-Rheims)
In addition to the already mentioned sins, we should add our lack of gratitude for the blessings God has given us. & then, after truly repenting, make this Thanksgiving Day truly una FESTA di RINGRAZIAMENTO.
& that means no shopping on Thanksgiving Day for gifts of any kind.
* I want to make it clear that I am NOT opposed to shopping for gifts to give friends & family for Christmas. But we have made this about how much we get, not giving them as a symbol of the gifts of the Magi, nor about showing our love & affection in many cases. & yes, as I pointed out, this goes back many decades to the 1930s at least. But back then, for the most part, there was still a strong religious aspect to Christmas that has been pushed out over the decades since. I won't go into detail here, but much of this can be laid at the feet of those who have secularized our nation by doing all they can to push religion out of the public square.