Business corporations muddle the significance of holidays


By Agustine Ugalde

Now that the holidays are in full swing with Thanksgiving Day on the horizon, it is time to reflect on what is important in life.

Once again corporate greed, run-away consumerism and the need to keep up with the Jones’s has fouled yet another traditional family gathering and celebration.

Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Day celebrations have long been tainted by the extended reach of money-hungry corporations,whose only mission in life is to extract funds from the all-eager-to-comply masses.

Thanksgiving always seemed a bit different though.

Thanksgiving was about family. It was about reunion, reconciliation and reinforcing family ties by catching up with the latest trials and tribulations of our closest relatives.
It was a return to our origins. A return to the most valued and important people in our lives. And to our original and most significant support group.

This is what Thanksgiving Day means to me.

The emergence of Black Friday has changed all that.

Actually, Corporate America had been uncharacteristically slow in its exploitation of this most venerable of holidays.

Black Friday, for those who have been living in another part of the galaxy, is an all-out commercial assault on the tradition, sanctity and purity of Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving Day, and the days leading up to it, consumers are bombarded with commercial after commercial from Wal-Mart Stores  Inc. Living Spaces, Anna’s Linens and many other greedy corporations on television, radio, print and the Internet.

Whether you subscribe to the traditional theme and origin of the holiday,  the coming together of two very different cultures in a celebration of peace and harmony, or not-  Thanksgiving was about family first.

Black Friday has become the Thanksgiving version of the Christmas crunch to buy, buy and buy some more.

The term “Black Friday” was originally used to describe the stifling traffic that many cities across the country experienced on the day after Thanksgiving because of the rush to get home after visiting relatives.

It was later adopted by the media to describe the start of the Christmas shopping season and to symbolically mark the day retailers turned a profit for the year, the day they were “in the black.”

According to a 2008 report from ShopperTrak, a consumer-trend shopping agency affiliated with the International Council of Shopping Centers, Black Friday officially became the busiest shopping day of the year in 2003.

It has remained the busiest shopping day since then, with the exception of 2004.
Reports of out-of-control mobs at shopping centers throughout the country, attacking each other in pursuit of that “must have” item, that is everything but “must have,” are now commonplace.

Black Friday has become so convoluted that people are literally stomping others to death in the pursuit of the unnecessary.

Several lives have been lost in recent years by the stampede of the mindless, just because they crave the latest version of the electronic flavor of the month.

It seems that corporate America has given the public some rope and some shoppers are using it to hang themselves with it.

Black Friday was no doubt conceived in a luxurious and opulent, but nonetheless seedy, smoke-filled and musty corporate lounge filled with financial fat cats that would have your money.

I could hear the conversation in my mind.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re getting sloppy. We want more. We want more sales. We want more profit. We want more, more, more.

“We’ve done a great job of manipulating and exploiting the meaning of other holidays. Let’s now work on Thanksgiving.”

And now we are here. When will the lunacy end?  Judging by recent trends, probably never.

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