The Richmond Register

December 3, 2013

The shopping frenzy cuts into Thanksgiving

By Carol Prewitt
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Anyone who was out this weekend, whether to join in the bargain hunt or out of necessity, met with heavy traffic and people on a mission. Some in a great holiday mood and some frustrated with it all.

I heard a lot of talk about the days when the “blue law” that kept businesses closed on Sunday was in effect. This law came about in colonial times to keep a “rigid religious standard.” But as time progressed, it was shown that those not necessarily religious liked the idea, too, as a family day and day of rest from a busy world.

The Supreme Court of this land heard many cases for and against this law and ruled in favor of it, saying it no longer represented only the religious, but had become a day of rest for all people. About 12 states still enforce some form of the blue law. In Maine, the law prevents large retailers (over 5,000 sq. ft.) from opening on Thanksgiving Day. If you disregard the law, you can get six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

I read that some atheists think of the law as an attempt to force Christian standards on others. But research shows that other religions also practice a version of it. Some Islamic nations ban certain sales on Friday. And Israel does the same on the Sabbath (Saturday).

I grew up in an area where the blue law was observed. It was a peaceful time in the small town of Roseville.

I remember there was one drugstoe open in case you needed medicine, a gas station because you might be caught short while traveling and a mom-and-pop grocery in case you ran out of milk or bread.        

Our drug store was Cunningham’s, and our grocery was Skip and Rita’s. As a small child I used to get their names confused and call them Rip and Skeet. Skip knew I loved liver sausage and would always call me back to the meat counter for a free sample.

Here in Newby, the consensus seems to be that Thanksgiving Day is a very important family day and should not be disturbed by something that can just as well be accomplished the next day. There is already enough to undermine family time as it is.

I hope the future generations can experience the same kind of warm fuzzy feelings I have of the smells of turkey in the oven and the excitment of relatives coming to the door to share a special time. I think this family agrees.