There was a time in this nation’s history when merchants had proper respect for Thanksgiving, a holy day our Founding Fathers set aside “to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor,” as President George Washington proclaimed in 1789.
Until 1939, merchants dared not even kickoff the end of year shopping season until well after Thanksgiving for fear they would be accused of defiling a day sacred to the nation’s Christian faithful.
Not until 1939 would merchants totally commercialize the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Indeed, they wouldn’t even advertise the shopping season – reminding Americans how many days left until Christmas – until after Thanksgiving Day, for fear of accusations of defiling a holy day for the nation’s Christian faithful.
The change occurred when Fred Lazurus Jr., founder of Federated Department Stores, the forerunner of Macy’s, successfully lobbied President Franklin Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving up a week to give the nation’s retailers more time to peddle their dry goods before Christmas.
By the early 1960s, the day after Thanksgiving came to be known as “Black Friday,” the unofficial start of the profanely secularist holiday shopping season; during which Mammon is worshipped, and Jesus Christ, the reason for the season, is an afterthought to the retail money changers.
Now, in 2013, merchants aren’t even waiting until Black Friday to get the holiday selling and buying started. Their doors will be open, their cash registers ringing this upcoming Thursday, which, as Abraham Lincoln said in 1863, should be “set apart” as a day of “Thanksgiving and praise for our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
What particularly outrages are the buckraking retailers who dare to suggest they are performing some sort of public service by opening on Thanksgiving.
“As part of our commitment to helping parents fulfill kids’ wishes as they check off the items on their lists, we’re providing a unique opportunity for Rewards ‘R’ Us members to snap up a selection of Thanksgiving Weekend deals one day early,” said Peter Reiner, Senior Vice President for Toys ‘R’ Us.
“This year, we’re adding to the anticipation and excitement around Black Friday shopping with a sweepstakes that could change an Old Navy’s shopper’s life overnight,” said Stefan Larsson, Old Navy Global President, promising that one lucky shopper will become an “Overnight Millionaire.”
“Wal-Mart associates are really excited to work that day,” said Mac Naughton, Executive Vice President of Walmart.
What’s noteworthy about the remarks by Reiner, Larrson and Naughton that not one of them explicitly stated that their stores would be open on Thanksgiving Day.
Reiner said Rewards ‘R’ Us parents would be able snatch up a selection of toys for their kids “one day early,” which means one day before Black Friday, which means Thanksgiving Day.
Larsson mentioned added “anticipation and excitement around Black Friday shopping.” But to take part in that Black Friday sweepstakes, a shopper has to pass through the doors of an Old Navy store on Thanksgiving Day.
And Naughton maintained that Wal-Mart rank-and-file are “really excited to work that day.” But that day is Thanksgiving and it’s hard to believe that the mass of Wal-Mart employees would prefer to be at work than spending the holy day with their families.
And those are not the only retailers, not the only company execs, determined to secularize Thanksgiving; to removing God from the holy day.
Fred Lazurus Jr.’s old company, Macy’s, will be open Thanksgiving. As will Best Buy, Target, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Hollister, H&M, Forever 21, American Eagle, Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and who knows how many other unGodly retailers.
That represents a test to those of us who share the faith of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln: Will we honor Almighty God, our beneficent Father, on Thanksgiving? Or will we worship in the latter day temples of Mammon?
Let us be informed by the words of the Lord God: “Those who honor Me I will honor, but those who despise Me will be disdained.”