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Freedom from 'Black Friday'

November 19, 2012 - Mike Donahey
Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want,” pictures a family of 11 ready to partake in a Thanksgiving meal.

Many know the picture: A white-haired grandmother, suitably attired in an apron, is seen holding a giant serving plate, the resting place for a large turkey, Her partner, dutifully standing next to her, while the family of nine, seated at the dining room table, is talking away. Published in the March 6, 1943 edition of the Saturday Evening Post, it was part of Rockwell’s Four Freedom Series. Some consider it the definitive Rockwell painting. Fast forward to 2014 or 2015, and a Rockwell contemporary would not envision a home setting for "Freedom from Want."

Conversely, he/she would be at a big box or major retailer’s store, watching a family munching down fast food. That is where Thanksgiving has been headed for a number of years and will be soon.

Not long ago major retailers were opening up at 5 or 6 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) to induce shoppers to get the latest “fad” gift or a huge discount on the latest electronic item. That wasn’t early enough. Some stores pushed it to 3 a.m, then 2 a.m. and 1 a.m.. Of course, our compatriots in electronic and print media, and even co-workers here at the Times-Republican, covered the events.

The explanations by the stores for opening up so early, and requiring employees to miss out on many Thanksgiving events, was long and seemingly distinguished. The early sales are “needed to enhance the bottom line,” “our customers expect it” and so on.

This year Wal-Mart will open at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving night. Other stores will kick-off at midnight or a little later. Prediction: In 2013, some stores will open at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night, and by 2014 or 2015 many major retailers will be open all day on Thanksgiving.

That means retail employees will soon be wanting a “Freedom from Working Thanksgiving Day” painting. Good luck in finding it.



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