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Published November 21 2012

Forum editorial: ‘Black Thursday’ will be OK

Black Friday, the retail spree that officially begins the Christmas shopping season, seems intent on metastasizing to include an early start for the most determined shoppers, beginning with an observance of Black Thursday – otherwise known as Thanksgiving afternoon or evening.

While many will celebrate this innovation, plenty of others will bemoan this intrusion on a cherished holiday, a quiet day set aside for giving thanks. It’s safe to assume that the puritanical Pilgrims would not approve of Black Thursday. But the Pilgrims never went to a modern shopping mall.

Welcome or unwelcome, the emergence of Black Thursday will remind North Dakotans of a certain age of the debate years ago over whether to allow shopping on Sunday. Despite objections from those who saw it as violating the Sabbath, and opponents who said it would be the death knell of small-town merchants, voters happily said goodbye to the prohibition. The world kept spinning.

This isn’t to deny that it is sad to see yet another tradition whittled away. Thanksgiving for many is a time to gather with family and friends, a day of rest and relaxation and reflection. At least some retail workers will have their Thanksgivings interrupted or cut short, and they are understandably not happy about that.

But of course many people these days must work on Thanksgiving. Some are essential to health or public safety, such as police and firefighters, doctors and nurses. Others work to provide transportation or communications that people rely upon regardless of the holiday. Still others work simply because many people want a service available to them – convenience stores, hotels, restaurants and movie theaters come to mind – and the marketplace has responded. People who enter those occupations know what they are signing up for.

So the idea that Thanksgiving is inviolately set aside from work has become like a Norman Rockwell painting, an idealized relic of a bygone era. Thanksgiving, after all, is ultimately what we make of it. Many who have to work on the day set aside for its observance gather with their families on another day to give thanks and to indulge in a splendid meal, or whatever tradition they choose to practice.

Having said that, we hope that retailers who open their doors for shoppers on Black Thursday do so in a way that allows their employees time for a Thanksgiving with their families, by opening late in the afternoon or early in the evening. That still leaves plenty of time to get the Christmas shopping done and gives their employees something to be thankful for.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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