The Stores That Stole Thanksgiving
Courtesy of its New York City parade, Macy’s may forever be linked to our Thanksgiving festivities. Sadly, it and its fellow merchandisers may also be the main culprits in the holiday’s rapid disappearance, for today’s retailers are close to gobbling up Thanksgiving altogether in their rush to get from Halloween to Christmas.
Maybe it’s part of an attention-deficit-disorder lifestyle and a societal obsession with the next big thing–or maybe just an obsession with getting to the next profit center as quickly as possible–but stores stocked their shelves with Halloween candy and costumes as soon as Labor Day weekend was over, then decked their halls with Christmas lights, trees, and trinkets on November 1 or before (and you know the Valentine’s hearts will be on display Dec. 26th.)
By the first week in November, television was already full of Christmas movie specials, cartoons, and commercials for holiday sales and pre-Black Friday specials―one car maker is already running a New Year’s sale. But that was just the small arms fire in the assault on Thanksgiving. Then the retailers pulled out the heavy artillery: Opening their stores on the holiday itself.
It began a couple of years ago when some stores pushed back their Black Friday openings from 9 a.m. to 7 and then 6 and even 5. Other enterprising marketers then decided to open at midnight on Thursday. That was countered by a contingent that opened on Thursday evening and soon others announced they would open on Thursday afternoon or even earlier. Black Friday had become Black Thursday/Friday.
Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends gathered round for a home-cooked feast followed by a generous helping of football and well-deserved tryptophan-induced naps? Not if you have to get to work by mid-afternoon on Thursday. Yes, Christmas is an important day for retailers, as it is for printers who produce catalogs, cards, and a multitude of other holiday-related products. But Thanksgiving is important in its own way–too important to lose.
Thanksgiving is a different sort of holiday, one that thinks about others, not with obligatory soon-to-be-discarded trifles, but with the essentials of food and shelter―sharing our bounty, extending hospitality to strangers, finding a place at the table for those who would otherwise be alone.
And it’s the one day of the year when we pause to think of the Native Americans who were here before us, to consider how we could and should have treated them and how we might have co-existed in harmony, each benefitting from the best of the other.
Above everything else, it’s a uniquely American holiday that symbolizes a nation whose people, no matter where they are from, recognize their tremendous good fortune to be living in a country blessed with an abundance of natural riches and the freedom and opportunity to make the most of them. Turkey and pumpkin pie may not be their national dish of choice, but it is incorporated by dozens of cultures into a shared meal that somehow brings us all together.
As printers, we can encourage the celebration of Thanksgiving by printing and mailing Thanksgiving cards to our best customers and encouraging them to do the same, and by printing signage or banners celebrating the day and displaying them proudly in our facilities throughout the month of November.
To paraphrase Dr. Seuss: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Thanksgiving, he thought, doesn’t mean going to a store. What if Thanksgiving…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Happy (uninterrupted) Thanksgiving!