Once again the Thanksgiving holiday has arrived. People across the country will cook food and come together, relaxing in a rare moment free from work and school. Millions of people will travel to visit family, play sports, watch football and eat way too much. When the day is almost finished and people are starting to wind down many will retreat to their bedrooms for some much needed rest. Others will leave their homes and participate in a yearly ritual known as the Black Friday Sale.
It seems that each year companies start their attack on our senses earlier, with advertisements about the incredible deals one can find if they are the first person at the store. We receive emails, see T.V. commercials and are bombarded with coupons and notices in the mail. We are shown news reports of people lining up days early to ensure they are the first ones in line. Often the excitement builds to the point that we are in such a rush when the stores do open that security guards are pushed around, fellow customers are knocked down and injured, and sometimes people are literally trampled to death.
And what are we in such a rush to buy that we are willing to spend hours, perhaps days away from our loved ones? The commercials tell us that we all need to buy the newest iPad or T.V. or whatever. We all know that Christmas is just around the corner and we are expected to buy “good” gifts for our family and friends. And for those of us in workplaces that participate in gift exchanges, there is the added pressure of having to buy for friends.
This pressure to buy unneeded things couldn’t come at a worse time for working people. The unemployment rate is around 10 percent across the country and rising. Congress just voted to end the unemployment benefits for millions of people, reducing benefits from 99 to 26 weeks.
Mounting unemployment and pressure to buy during the holiday season has a price. Roughly 20 percent of Americans, 45 million people, suffered depression in the past year and that number is expected to rise sharply during November and December. Linked to the increase in depression is a sharp rise in suicides, almost triple the normal rate among those depressed. This is nothing to be thankful for!
Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to spend our Friday buying stuff we don’t need, allowing companies to manipulate our emotions through T.V ads. Rather than line up days or hours early at the store we can go to the park with our family or friends. Rather than exchanging gifts with our co-workers, let’s have a potluck instead.
The companies have made it clear that our lives don’t matter. They lay us off, lower our salaries and treat us as if we are disposable. This Thanksgiving let’s treat them the same way by saving our money and time and ignoring their Black Friday.