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Let's not forget who's in charge on Thanksgiving

Friday, 29 Nov 2013 | 7:21 AM ET
Shoppers wait in line during the Thanksgiving holiday on November 28, 2013, at the Toys-R-Us store in Fairfax, Virginia.
Paul J. Richards | AFP | Getty Images
Shoppers wait in line during the Thanksgiving holiday on November 28, 2013, at the Toys-R-Us store in Fairfax, Virginia.

This Thursday, all over the country, people got together and celebrated how thankful they are for their families, their friends and for their abundant possessions. Then, hours later, they left those same family members and friends behind so that they could get an early start—and maybe even a discount—on buying even more things. Welcome to the new state of "thanks" in America.

With a challenging economic environment, fierce competition and a shortened holiday buying season, a slew of retailers and malls have followed the lead of Wal-Mart, which had been an early entrant into the pre-Black Friday sales game, and opened at various hours on this American holiday.

There has predictably been outrage about the openings. How dare businesses ask employees to work on the Thanksgiving holiday, many have asked? I don't find the employee "ask" to be offensive. There are plenty of people, from hotel employees to restaurant workers to police and firefighters who have to work on a variety of holidays, including Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Retail work is known to have undesirable hours, with employees often having to work weekends and late nights, depending on the retailer. And outside of retail, plenty of professionals and small business owners have had to work on days that we haven't wanted to, which perhaps caused us to miss an important engagement or occasion. It's far from ideal, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices and determine priorities among conflicts when it comes to our personal and professional lives.

(Read more: Forget Thanksgiving. Let's shop!)

That being said, what I truly hope happens in my heart of hearts, is that this massive retail test is an abysmal failure. The reality is that if consumers don't show up and spend in a meaningful way this year, retailers won't do it again next year. Yes, this is another example of the consumers driving the business decisions. A business won't offer these early hours on a holiday if there aren't a drove of people taking advantage of them.

I personally have a Black Friday tradition of avoiding the stores like the plague and I am going to extend that tradition to this Thursday as well. There is so little time to spend reflecting on thanks and to be with loved ones, that the prospect of trading it for a running-with-the-bulls stampede of strangers that smell like turkey and stuffing knocking each other over to save a few bucks on a flat screen television seems incomprehensible.

(Read more: Retailers' Black Friday and Thanksgiving hours)

Not to mention that with technology, you can now shop 24/7 on your phone, tablet or computer. So why rush through the pumpkin pie and forgo the Steelers vs. Ravens game to participate in this consumerist madness?

As consumers, we always vote with our wallets and that vote counts with businesses. If you keep yourself—and your wallet—physically out of the stores, you can help to preserve Thanksgiving as a time when we can be truly thankful for the intangible things that actually matter, instead of turning the holiday into an excuse to spend more money.

(Read more: Wal-Mart holds food drive for its employees)

—By Carol Roth. Carol Roth is a CNBC contributor, a "recovering" investment banker and author of "The Entrepreneur Equation." Follow her on Twitter @CarolJSRoth.

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