how to be human on thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

I’m lucky enough to have never known what Black Friday was until I was about eighteen and was meant to work one. Fortunately, I didn’t have to due to a fever of 105 degrees, which is sort of life threatening, but whatever. Anyrate, I see and hear a lot about it. But I never really did until about three years ago. I don’t know if it’s because I just have never had interest in going shopping on any specific day or if it really wasn’t a real thing until very recently. And I don’t really care which of those it is.

It’s obviously a tragedy, Black Friday. To force people to work insane hours so you can fight strangers for things you probably don’t really want or need. Especially because you can get better deals online without all the fighting.

But then you’re also pushing those workers in the giant mausoleums amazon builds to ship things on time. Giant warehouses filled with people sprinting back and forth to keep the job that’s quickly killing them so they can feed their kids, keep a home or apartment.

Small Business Saturday is meant to be a reaction to Black Friday, to pull people out of department stores and so on. Or I guess that’s the idea.

The result seems to be that we expect everyone to slash prices for the things they sell. We expect people to be working longer hours to accommodate us while we decide if their small business is worthy of our money.

And Cyber Monday seems to sort of be a reaction to this. I see a lot of small businesses try to take advantage of it by running awesome deals and using the internet to spread word.

But all of this is commercialism. You can’t fight the dehumanisation of commercialism and corporatism by adding your own brand of commercialism to the noise. You don’t fight price slashes with more price slashes. And you don’t support small businesses by making them work on the holidays that you think should be spent with families.

I have no interest in talking about the historical context of Thanksgiving. That’s been well covered for quite a long time by people smarter than me. And it’s fine to point that out. It’s perfectly legitimate to point out that this holiday is built upon the genocide of people. But if you’re going to do that, you may as well do this at every holiday. I especially see atheists do this with christmas or easter, but they never really mention the cultural imperialism that goes along with that, the kind that goes along with most holidays that people in the west celebrate.

So, yeah, understand and acknowledge the historical context, but be willing to accept that meaning changes and people are allowed to celebrate being with their families. You can say people should do that every day, but many of us don’t live near our families or get vacation time to see them often or at all. Thanksgiving, for many people, is an excuse to have a sliver of time off to be with their family, who they may not have seen since the previous christmas or Thanksgiving. Yes, it’s built on a tragedy, but so is the whole damn country. So is the whole damn world.

Every day in the First World that allows us to remain in the First World is because of the tragedy of billions of people in the Third World. Billions. Your phone, your computer, your clothes, your food, everything you own.

So don’t try to make people feel bad because they’ve chosen to make Thanksgiving special, even though it comes from a horrible event. Don’t stand on your mountain of morality and preach how you’re better, because you’re not. You’re just like everyone else.

Children weaved your clothes. Children made your technology. Children who will never be remembered, who will die too soon.

This is a reality we accept every single day without even blinking or skipping a breath, so come off that mountain and live in the forever tragedy that is the modern world.

It’s good and proper and right to try to make things better, but don’t moralise to people who are just trying to have one good, happy day out of the entire year where they can try to forget about the pain of existence and the world. Where we can pretend the earth isn’t screaming.

And so let people be with their family. Let people try to escape the commercialism we’re constantly drowning in.

You know how you fight Black Friday?

Don’t participate. Don’t reduce the price of your wares. Don’t open your store. Don’t accommodate the rabid population’s need for deals or their lust for spending money.

If you’re someone who doesn’t own a business, then don’t spend your money. Don’t spend it anywhere. Don’t go to the lines or the stores. Don’t buy things online. Don’t spend your Saturday forcing small businesses to stay open so you can pat yourself on the back about being so progressive because you managed to not spend money for one single day when a lot of other people are spending it.

Join the protests or shut up.

Don’t rant on social media about how you’re better.

Stay inside. Spend time with the your family or friends, the ones you barely get to see because of time and/or distance. Be a human on Thanksgiving and the following weekend.

Don’t participate in Cyber Monday. Don’t fiend for commercialism, for things.

Be the human you wish everyone could be, including yourself.

Read a book.

Watch bad television.

Argue with your parents about politics and religion.

Eat too much food and laugh about being a fat idiot.

Post stupid pictures online about things that no one really cares about.

And have the kindness, the graciousness, to let people have a weekend of peace.

Because holidays are not really about remembering or commemorating anything. We can say they are, but they’re not.

Holidays are for us. They’re selfish and that’s okay. They let us forget. They let us wash the pain away. They let us be human and fight to be better the other 360 days of the year.

So don’t be a dick. Don’t moralise. Don’t set yourself apart from humanity.

We’re all in this together, as ugly and foul as it may be.

These days together allow us to find beauty and inspire us to keep fighting.

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