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The Sale that Stole Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving tells of survival against imponderably difficult odds and the celebration of Native Americans and English settlers alike around a common table. With delicious food before them, they thanked God for being alive to enjoy all of God's good gifts.

Thanksgiving has always struck (many) as a profoundly religious observance. Therefore, (they are) dismayed at the backward encroachment of Black Friday—the busiest shopping day of the year—into Thanksgiving Day itself.

Stores have been opening early—say, at 6 a.m.—on the day after Thanksgiving for years. But extremely early openings (4 a.m. or 5 a.m.) have gradually become more common. Target, Best Buy, Macy's, and others caused a stir in 2011 by opening at midnight. Wal-Mart went further the next year and opened in the evening on Thanksgiving Day. (Now) nearly a dozen stores—including Macy's, Target, Best Buy, and Kohl's—will be open at least as early as that … meeting our perceived need to be able to buy what we want when we want it … and at huge discounts.

Our national holidays gradually erode with every wave of unending commerce. It's a regrettable move that suggests what we value most is not family, religion, history, or even the cherished notion that God has blessed America. Instead, for us there is no day so sacred that it would keep us from standing in long lines to get a flat-screen TV.

It is significant that President Abraham Lincoln established a regular date for a nationally observed day of Thanksgiving while the Civil War was still raging. ... In his Proclamation of Thanksgiving, Lincoln urged people to consider that even amid the ravages of war, God had blessed America with "fruitful fields and healthful skies," and that, even in the nation's suffering, God had "nevertheless remembered mercy."

(Now) he might regard the stories of the shrieking mobs surging in a blind rush for holiday bargains and trampling a Wal-Mart employee to death in the process as falling somewhat short of both American and religious ideals. ... Nor does it sound like something that our God—who commanded his people to give even their servants and animals rest on the seventh day—smiles upon.

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