by Maria Karagianis
Never mind Occupy Wall Street. Let's start by taking back our privacy, spirituality, and family lives by re-occupying Thanksgiving.
The news recently has been replete with articles about Massachusetts Blue Laws and whether or not Big Box retailers like WalMart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl's, and Macy's can open at midnight on Thanksgiving — which they are pushing to do to buttress sales — or whether they have to wait — poor things — until 12:30 a.m. to whip shoppers into a manic, pre-Christmas frenzy because consumers simply can't wait a few hours to start shopping on the morning of Black Friday. The Globe's editorial board even weighed in with a worthwhile compromise.
We know what mega-stores need — to make more and more money and lengthen the Christmas shopping season at the expense of consumers who actually can't afford to shop as they have in the past. But the real losers in this scenario are the thousands of low-paid, powerless retail workers in the United States who are being bullied with increasing brazenness into leaving their homes, Thanksgiving celebrations, and children in the middle of the night to sell stuff imported from China to American consumers who in many cases neither need, nor can afford to buy it.
If deprived shoppers can't sleep all night because they are so excited about shopping, maybe they should use the quiet hours after the Thanksgiving feast to think about a different approach to Christmas, like that of a sensible friend of mine who says simply: "Jesus got only three presents — gold, frankincense and myrrh. So that's what I do. I give each of my children three presents — a book, a game and an article of clothing."
Or how about giving just one gift? Or no gifts. Or making gifts. Or doing things for people instead of buying them things like offering to baby-sit their children every month or teach them how to make bread.
I know. It sounds kind of Puritanical, but then again, this is Massachusetts where it all — including Thanksgiving and a citizen revolution — began.
The huge retailing conglomerates, who import everything from China at vast
costs to the environment and to local economies, claim that they are responding to consumer demand. Last year, a National Retail Federation survey showed that the number of shoppers who went to stores opening at midnight following the Thanksgiving feast tripled in 2010 from 2009.
So we consumers have a role in all this. It seems clear by now to many of us that Wall Street and big government are simply not going to come save us. We have to save ourselves and think of creating a new local economy of social cohesion and environmental wisdom. This Thanksgiving is a good time to start this new revolution. A consumer revolution. Right here In Massachusetts.
We can vote with our feet. Stop shopping. Stay home Thanksgiving night. Even if you don't like turkey or even your family.
Globe file photo: Shoppers at a Target in Dorchester during Black Friday last year.