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EDITORIAL: We owe it to ourselves to observe Giving Tuesday


First came Black Friday. Then came #SmallBusinessSaturday. Next was Cyber Monday.

And now — Giving Tuesday?

Over the past decade it feels that every Thanksgiving becomes a little bit more about shopping than the last. It's ironic, too, as the basic gist of the holiday is to be grateful for the people we love and the things we do have.

Yet somewhere along the way, consumerism got its grubby little rat hands on a holiday that is supposed to exemplify giving and molded it into one of, if not the biggest, shopping holidays of the year.

Over time, Black Friday seemed to fall on Thursday more and more. Initially, it felt like every business, including massive ones, were closed on Thanksgiving to allow their employees time with their family and a chance for stores to prepare for Christmas shopping following the holiday. 

First, it was the stores that opened at 4 a.m. on Friday — which seemed to be kind of a fun and novel idea. To be more specific, IKEA being open at 4 a.m. seemed like a fun idea. 

But this year, stores such as Kroger, Walmart, Target and others did not close at all. Black Friday blowout sales started as early as 2 p.m. Thanksgiving day. A day off once given to employees is now just another day on the schedule, making a holiday just another regular day. 

The entire holiday now seems to be all about spending money. Maybe people use these sales to shop for others and maybe that does not negate the theme of gratitude. But in general, all these sales and pushes to spend money and buy products lean toward a very grim assumption about humans — we get more than we give.

#GivingTuesday is hoping to change that. 

Giving Tuesday, which started in 2012, is a day where people donate either time or money to various charities, nonprofit organizations or other areas of need. Giving Tuesday makes a good point to take a break from all the buying — be it for yourself or others — and turn the attention toward giving what you can. On the Giving Tuesday website, there are tons of resources to help find out how and where you can participate.

The best part of Giving Tuesday is it emphasizes money is not the only thing anyone has to give. Giving does not necessarily come with a price tag, it can mean giving your time or your ear to someone who needs it. Giving Tuesday is something that Black Friday, #ShopSmallSaturday or Cyber Monday could never touch — free.

Giving Tuesday is a day that anyone can participate in regardless of family situation, finances or ability, making it absolutely exemplary of what the Thanksgiving holiday should embody — coming together and giving thanks.

The Thanksgiving holiday was taught to many as a holiday to be thankful and giving to others around you, no matter how little you had. Typically, Thanksgiving education included the story of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, but left out the part where thousands of native and indigenous lives were lost or uprooted in order for us to have the holiday we know it as.

To put it briefly, the first Thanksgiving Dinner probably included a lot of conquering, disenfranchisement and disease more than it did turkey and stuffing. While we cannot turn back time and change the origin of the holiday, going forward we should be putting effort into making the meaning something truly benevolent to our neighbors.

Giving Tuesday is a great first step.

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