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Thanksgiving overlooked on Black Friday

Our corner of the world has been celebrating many, many 150th birthdays this year.

The year 1863 marked quite a few historic events in our region. Union troops occupied Natchez as the Civil War fighting continued.

Up the river the people of Vicksburg endured tremendous hardships as their city was under siege by Union gunboats.

The year also marked a momentous occasion at a site off what is now the intersection of St. Catherine Street and Liberty Road; when Union troops arrived, the Forks of the Road slave market was dismantled.

It was truly a turning point in the world. The Civil War would linger on for two more years, but for all practical purposes, the writing was on the wall by the end of 1863.

That same year, President Lincoln proclaimed that as a result of the turning of fortunes in the war the nation should set aside a day for thanksgiving, thus making the month of November forever remembered by this national celebration.

Two world wars and a number of other conflicts later, our nation finds itself having gone through great change and turmoil in the last 150 years.

But interestingly the Thanksgiving celebration has continued to be a constant.

Exactly what recollections make up one’s Thanksgiving Day memories depends greatly upon one’s childhood.

For many of us, the traditional turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce is the order of the day.

For others the day is one filled with travel to make it home to distant family members.

For the last several decades or so, Thanksgiving is also a day that sort of signals the arrival of the Christmas shopping season, or more precisely, the day after Thanksgiving does that.

In recent memory retailers have dubbed the Friday after Thanksgiving Day as “Black Friday,” a not-so-subtle reference to the amount of money which changes hands on that day. As a top shopping day, the day is said to be the point in the year at which retailers make it into the black — or positive profitability.

Each year, the Black Friday hype seems to get more and more nuts.

Bargain-hunting shoppers have trampled other shoppers to death in past years. Seemingly adults are seen fighting like toddlers over the last remaining sale item available.

This year, the craziness has reached new levels.

In addition to rolling out sales prices that are low enough to make adults fight, many stores are just sort of skipping Thanksgiving altogether.

That’s right, last week, Walmart — the king of all retailers — announced it would end Thanksgiving, as we know it.

This year Walmart’s Black Friday sales are going to start on Thanksgiving evening or perhaps we should call it Black Friday Eve.

Other retailers have joined Walmart’s plans.

This year may go down in the ages as the year that Thanksgiving Day turned 150, promptly rolled over and died.

Of course we — America’s consumers — can change Walmart’s plans if we chose to do so.

What would happen if they threw a Black Friday, I mean Thursday, sale and no one came?

We’ll probably never know because our nation’s insatiable hunger for ever bigger, ever cheaper TVs will probably be too difficult to ignore.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.