The war is on Thanksgiving, not Christmas

Nov 14, 2013

Right wing cable television networks and websites love to yammer on about the ``War’’ on Christmas. But when was the last time you saw Fox News talk about the war on Thanksgiving, which seems to many a much more serious threat.

Exhibit A: the growing list of national retail chains opening their doors for the Christmas shopping season on Thanksgiving Day. This year, more than a dozen big retail chains will open Thanksgiving, giving their workers scant chance to celebrate the holiday over a stuffed turkey with their families.

Among the predatory retailers feasting on their employees’ family time are a long list of the usual  corporate suspects, including Walmart, Target, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Macy's , Kohl’s, Best Buy and Toys R US.

Norman Rockwell’s famous illustration of a family seated around the Thanksgiving table as grandma arrives with a turkey fresh from the oven is the iconic tableaux of this holiday. Now the symbol of  Thanksgiving  is increasingly the empty seats at the table as workers run off to low-paying jobs at the mall to serve people who just got done saying thanks for what they have but vault from their dinner  table to buy things they don’t need.

The only way to retaliate against this pollution of a great American holiday might be to refuse to shop at stores that open on Thanksgiving. Or perhaps support store chains that haven’t gobbled up their employees’ holiday. Among those: Costco, Patagonia, REI, American Girl, Nordstrom and Burlington Coat Factory.

Rhode Islanders are luckier than most because we have a way to protest the Black Friday shopping madness and do something for the less fortunate. This year, the Buy Nothing Winter Coat Exchange has more sites than ever.

Greg Gerritt, the political, environmental  and anti-poverty activist says the 17th annual Buy Nothing Winter Coat Exchange has 14 sites around Rhode Island.  As always, the coat exchange is held on the biggest shopping day of the year, the Friday after Thanksgiving. The main site is on the south lawn at the State House, which is in the shadow of the Providence Place Mall.

Throughout the month, the sites will be collecting coats that people no longer need for distribution to those in our community who cannot afford winter coats. A list of sites can be found at:

And unlike most other states, Rhode Island law bars the big box retailers from opening on Thanksgiving. Organized labor many years ago ushered this law through the R.I. General Assembly, according to George Nee, president of the state AFL-CIO.

By contrast, there is no war on Christmas. Christmas is a holiday when all these retailers are shuttered. Christian churches, which the government decrees pay no taxes, have no restrictions on celebrating this sacred holiday that welcomes the birth of the Christ child. Decorated trees and Christmas-themed exhibits are everywhere, even on government property. A crèche is allowed on public property so long as it is part of a large holiday display. Hopefully, the retailers will continue to put people and families ahead of profits on Christmas.