A Society of Shopaholics

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Nicole RejerNicole Rejer is a freshman psychology major.

As the holiday season approaches, everybody is gearing up for the festivities. We’re planning dinners, presents, parties, and making plans to go home and spend some much needed time relaxing with friends and family. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we aren’t the only ones getting ready for something big. Stores all across the country are planning for their annual Black Friday sales: an American tradition that has been so blown-up that it’s almost a holiday in itself. Stores are now opening on Thanksgiving Day, and the masses of people that flood the stores or wait hours for doors to open are signs that something isn’t exactly right in our society.

To be completely honest, we have a shopping problem. Consumerism in this society has grown consistently throughout the decades, with new inventions, a growing economy, and more access to different kinds of material items. People buy and buy and buy, and never stop to consider if they really need the product. In reality, we only need few things to live and be happy, but we’ve forgotten that amid all the shopping. Our society has fallen into the mindset that the more material goods we acquire, the happier we will be. But if toys and clothes and electronics are taking over our lives, what are we losing out on?

Rampant consumerism during the holiday season is causing us to miss out on the more sentimental aspects of the season. Like bonding with families over Thanksgiving dinner, or seeing old family friends and playing football in the front yard. Or taking the time to really catch up with our siblings over a cup of cider and some pumpkin pie. Black Friday solely emphasizes the materialist aspect of our lives, and we only focus on getting the best deals. Now, with stores opening on Thanksgiving evening, people are beginning to put family second and shopping first. It’s a sacrifice that people are willing to make because they’re saving money short-term, but the long-term cost will be much more serious: taking family for granted and losing our traditional holiday values.

Some stores, thankfully, are taking a stand against this materialism. Big stores such as DSW, Nordstrom, REI, Crate & Barrel, Marshall’s and Patagonia will remain closed on Thanksgiving (and Christmas) in order to give their employees a day off and time to spend with their families. Black Friday is often the worst day of the year for many retail employees because their hours can stretch from 9 or 10pm on Thanksgiving night to 3 or 4am on Black Friday morning — and then they have to do it all again during regular store hours. However, the stores mentioned above recognize the importance of spending some time off of work just to relax and be surrounded by the ones you love.

Black Friday has become ingrained in the minds of Americans, and the consumerist mindset has slowly settled over much of American society in the present day. However, we must remember that the holidays are meant not for scoring sales, but for taking the time out of our lives and giving ourselves to others. To really get into the true holiday spirit, don’t go shopping Thursday evening. Have a special Thanksgiving dinner. Watch a movie. Bake some pies. Go on a walk. Take some time to really appreciate what you have. Because in ten years, no one will remember that deal you got on a pair of boots. It will be moments shared with family and friends that remain ingrained in our minds forever.

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