As a child I couldn't figure out why the day after Thanksgiving was referred to as Black Friday. Any day described as "black" bore a negative connotation. The Stock Market crash of 1929 that signaled the beginning of the Great Depression is remembered as Black Thursday.
Black Friday has interesting beginnings. In the 1950s, some factory managers referred to the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday because so many workers called in sick. In the early 1960s, Philadelphia cops used the term to describe the intense crowds of shoppers that poured into the city on the day after Thanksgiving. By the mid 1970s, newspapers in and around Philadelphia used Black Friday to refer to the start of holiday shopping.
Then, in the 1980s, some enterprising merchants began pointing to the "black ink" that showed up on balance sheets as a result of the day, when retailers came out of the red and into the black. In recent decades, Black Friday has mutated into an unsightly beast. The actual day of Thanksgiving, however, is an entirely different matter. It is a sacred day for family, food and football, right? Guess again.
Black Friday has become Black Thursday. At some major retailer stores, consumers started shopping at midnight on Thanksgiving Day 2012. This year, 33 million planned to shop on Turkey Day as many retailers opened at 8 p.m.
As I observe this disturbing trend, I wonder, what is the societal significance of trampling roughshod over a sacred holiday to dash madly through the mall? Sure, there's still time on Thanksgiving Day to gather family and friends to hastily consume the Turkey Day feast and grab the remote in time to see the kick-off of your favorite football team.
But, wait. Why did George Washington declare the 26th day of November 1789 "a time to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious being, who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be" in the first place? Because it seemed important to our nation's collective conscience to give thanks to the One from whom all blessings flow.
So now Thanksgiving Day is reduced to the dubious distinction of Brown Thursday. Why don't we just stop the pretense and re-name the opening day of the holiday shopping frenzy: Feed the Greed Day?
How did you celebrate this sacred holiday? Bowing humbly before God to express thanks for His bountiful provision or bowing your knee to the god of Mammon? Might I suggest that the future of our nation hinges, in part, on how Americans responded on November 28, 2013.