Ten years from now, Black "Friday" will start on a Tuesday... unless consumers send this much-needed message: Enough is enough.
I never thought I'd see the day when retailers would force shoppers to choose between spending time with family and standing in line at a big box store. If Thanksgiving isn't the breaking point, what will be? Or is there one?
Retailers must bear some of the blame for going to any length to increase their bottom line, but I think consumers should bear the brunt of the blame for only encouraging this insanity.
Maybe next year when stores presumably open even earlier (can we just make 16-pound turkeys a Black "Friday" special while we're at it?) consumers will evaluate their priorities and realize what's really important. The only way Thanksgiving will ever return to what it should be is if that message gets conveyed through fewer card swipes and cash transactions.
I'm not even trying to be a Scrooge about all this (in fact, I think it's the retailers playing that role by requiring their employees to work when they should have time for family). Taking advantage of incredible bargains is smart, and there's nothing wrong with Christmas shopping, but shouldn't it, by definition, take place during the Christmas season?
I think the calendar does a pretty good job of defining seasons and holidays - without financial bias. You won't find much marketing for Thanksgiving because it's pretty hard to sell the next great thing when people are pausing to reflect on all the great things they already have.
In any case, retailers are obviously starting to make some headway at realigning the timing of holidays with their financial goals, but unfortunately I think they've also been successful at redefining the emphasis of holidays.
Honestly, this is probably something we're all aware of, but with each passing year the epidemic seems to reach a new severity level. I wrote a bit about this issue in my column this time last year, but maybe the reality check vaccine is starting to become as necessary as an annual flu shot.
I know I'm consciously taking steps to counter the marketing onslaught this Christmas season, and hopefully this will encourage you to do the same, whatever your priorities are this time of year.
As a devout follower of Jesus - it's not a religion, it's a relationship - CHRISTmas obviously has a much deeper meaning to me, and I've found tons of great Advent (starts Sunday) resources to help me reflect on that meaning all month long (Bible reading plans on my YouVersion iPhone app and the "Good News of Great Joy" free ebook through John Piper's Desiring God ministry, for example).
Whatever you find most important this Christmas season, make it a higher priority than ever. Spend more time with family. Donate more to charity. Maybe even buy more gifts from retailers, but at least define Christmas your way, not the way retailers would have you see it.
Stephen Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.