Retailers buck early openings

Thanksgiving is a day for happy chaos in the kitchen that leads to a big feast in the company of family and friends, and pumpkin pie eaten while watching football. It’s a day to count our blessings, share our bounty, and give thanks.

Lately, however, the corruption of another holiday – Christmas – has intruded on this day of rest and contemplation. Now that madness is starting earlier. What used to be a 6 a.m. store opening on Black Friday became a 4 a.m. opening. Then it turned into midnight and eventually – perhaps inevitably – stores and malls are now opening on Thanksgiving day.

This isn’t particularly new. Some big chains, such as WalMart, have always been open on Thanksgiving.

But it’s a shame, because Thanksgiving day openings tempt more people to join the crowds in seeking bargains, and disrupts the lives of retail workers who must minister to this consumer craving. It degrades the spirit of a national holiday that began because of the generosity of Native Americans to their impoverished white immigrant neighbors.

But not every retailer is abandoning the essence of Thanksgiving. The Mac Store in Capitol Mall, for example, refused to open its doors on the holiday and stared down a threatened fine from the mall’s owner. The mall eventually relented and is allowing stores not to open.

The Mac Store’s CEO, Kevin Anderson nailed it perfectly when he told this newspaper’s reporter, “How many people aren’t with their families that day?”

Thankfully, the small 10-store chain of The Mac Stores, headquartered in Lake Oswego, Oregon, isn’t the only retailer pushing back against the commercial encroachment on Thanksgiving. Several prominent Washington-based retailers have also said no to Thanksgiving Day openings, including Nordstrom and Costco.

That’s a counter-trend we hope gains momentum. But for that to happen, we need to help by spending an entire Thanksgiving day giving thanks for the manifold blessings of our lives, by reflecting on the meaning of the holiday season ahead, and by opening our hearts to the spirit of gratitude this holiday is meant to evoke.