We are a nation divided and not just about our politics.
Today we are split torn asunder, like a metaphorical wishbone on a day that brings so many of us together for camaraderie and calories.
I speak not of Thanksgiving itself. For one dinner, we are neither red nor blue. We have our dark meat or white meat preferences, sure, but at least here we are a people of shared purpose, enjoying a symbiotic relationship with those of differing tastes.
No, I speak of what will come after Thanksgiving. Black Thursday, the inevitable offshoot of Black Friday. The Thanksgiving night jump on the Christmas season shopping binge has become a referendum on values.
A battle between the nonshoppers those noble protectors of Thanksgiving and its sanctity and those crass customers who cant give the debit card even one days rest.
No pun intended, but Im not buying. Its not that simple, because people arent that simple.
Im willing to believe that some people will shop Friday, or tonight, for perfectly valid reasons that are absolutely not any of my business.
Perhaps they do it because they really enjoy the hubbub and the competitiveness. The holiday retail crush becomes a happening, a family adventure, a bonding experience. I dont see it, but neither do I see the harm in it.
Perhaps they do it because they have busy work schedules of their own, and the long holiday weekend is the best, most convenient time to shop.
Or perhaps they do it because the sale prices are really the only way to afford items on their families wish lists. If thats the motivation, I cant begrudge it.
I know of what I speak. Last Thanksgiving, I got my first and final taste of Black Thursday.
I wasnt really shopping for anything, and though I wish I could say I was there in the interest of journalistic research, that wouldnt be accurate. I got talked into coming along and providing backup. Such things happen because, truth be told, Im taller than I appear in my mugshot.
The Thanksgiving night shopping safari took us to a crowded Walmart, too late for the best sale items but just in time to get engulfed in a quicksand of consumerism. Crammed aisles and cranky shoppers. At some point there was a profane altercation over one item. In the fracas, contents of a can of energy drink were splashed indiscriminately. Given the existing state of general agitation, I was actually mildly relieved that some of the beverage landed, unconsumed, on my coat.
Yes, it was ugly. Having experienced Black Thursday once, and having survived the Mordor of merchandise, I consider myself covered for life. But I just cant get worked up about other peoples decisions that do me no harm.
Shop today. Or Friday.
It is, of course, judgmental to suggest that we shouldnt judge our shopping or nonshopping friends and neighbors. But no aroma of stuffing and sweet potatoes can mask the whiff of moral indignation that I sense from the Boycott Black Thursday backlash.
No, the pilgrims probably couldnt have envisioned us, centuries later, pushing back from the feast to scarf up a killer deal on a flat screen. (The pilgrims probably couldnt have envisioned the Detroit Lions, either or at least I hope not.) The point is, holidays evolve, and that doesnt necessarily kill their spirit. Using a holiday as one more excuse to claim superiority seems, somehow, to sap the day of some of its pleasure.
Maybe it is an offshoot of our divided nature divisions that arent restricted to our politics. When were predisposed to disagree, Black Thursday provides one more flashpoint.
But where I appreciate and celebrate a healthy and heated exchange of opinions on politics, Im enough of a sentimental softie that I hate to see us argue about celebrations.
I love Christmas, but I dont look forward to another round of the overwrought culture clash over Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. (When I have doubt about someones religious beliefs, I extend wishes for happy holidays without malice aforethought.)
I also love Thanksgiving but I think people should show their appreciation for the day in the manner they see fit. If that involves a shopping trip, enjoy. But please dont ask me to tag along.
Kevin Richert: 377-6437, Twitter: @KevinRichert