If we imagine the holiday season in the form of dramatic structure, the days preceding Halloween are akin to the exposition, while immediately after would have to be the rapidly rising action. Candy is put on sale and Christmas decorations take its place. Stores start advertising layaway plans, and your favorite radio stations already have Christmas music on loop.
Each year we become older, our dread of the holidays — no matter how minute — grows more and more. What was once sold to us as a time to reflect, slow down, help those in need and spend time with family now feels simply as if it is being sold to us.
Each season seems to begin earlier with each passing year. This may be amplified by daylight savings and the rapid change in temperature (Seriously, did fall weather even happen?), but it most likely has more to do with the fact that, as we grow up, we grow more conscious of the commercial interests at play in our holiday experience.
Everywhere you turn someone is competing for your last dollar. It is hard to blame retailers for capitalizing on the gift-giving season, but we do resent when these interests are put in front of their employees.
Take the infamous Black Friday for example. In 2007, the average store opening was at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. In 2014, the average store opening was happening by 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, according to JP Griffin Group.
That is an extra 11 hours that are taken away from employee’s time with their families so that retailers can take every single inch of the profitable day that consumers will allow. Not only do these practices hurt the holiday experience of their employees, but it also encourages behavior that is antithetical to the holiday season. The day after we spend time giving thanks for the things we have, the deal hunters among us (we all know one) are put into a queue where their greed will later be encouraged, and their impatience and selfishness are merely a byproduct.
Beyond just Black Friday, the whole season feels contrived when we as consumers buy into the commercialized version of it. It breeds an environment of stress and lack of appreciation for our American values and culture. Businesses used to always be closed on Sundays and especially on holidays.
While we understand buying patterns have changed over time, there is no reason we cannot make an exception for the holiday season. Customers will always go to stores or websites to purchase products when there is a sale regardless of the date. It is time to reconsider current practices so that we can reinforce the values of the season.
But, with that said, some of the blame must fall on the consumer for getting caught up in the materialistic aspect of the holidays. The only way to let retailers and other businesses know that we do not wish to have our holidays succumb to commercialism is to vote with our dollars. And we have. Sales and store traffic to brick-and-mortar stores during Black Friday have steadily decreased from year to year, as more and more people are choosing to purchase online or in different ways, according to business insider.
Patronize the stores who prioritize their employees; skip one of those can’t-miss deals and wait until a different day. Chances are it probably was not all that great of a deal, anyway.