Wednesday, November 13, 2013

O Turkey, Where Art Thou?

Yep, it’s official. Consumerism has actually eaten an American holiday.

For those of you who have been keeping an observant eye on things when you’re out and about, you’ve come to notice something rather amiss happening. Come November 1st, suddenly everyone has pried the plastic headstones from their front yards and tossed all the ghostly Halloween décor inside its storage bin, not to be seen again until next fall. Nothing wrong with that, right? Nope, it’s the action that immediately follows that has me topsy-turvy: Everyone throws up all the Christmas decorations! Come on, people, it’s only November. I don’t have a bone to pick with baby Jesus and his plastic manger, but take it easy and celebrate the holidays in order.

Anyone else notice that little Christmas display corner in the Halloween department of Target that the employees put up in September? Okay, let’s just get something clear here. I live in the Chicagoland area, and for anyone such as myself, this is extremely cruel. Reminding us of the brutal, freezing months ahead that has us on the brink of losing fingers and toes in the cold as we try to shovel our ways out of the mounds of snow that is inevitably going to fall is pretty much about the emotional equivalent of kicking us in the shins after just having run us over with your car. In other words, NOT COOL, MAN! Not cool.

To make matters even worse, even the radio stations are jumping aboard this Christmas-crazed bandwagon. You know how there’s always that one local station come December that plays Christmas music 24-7? Remember how it started playing this on the first of December? Yeah, you know. 25 days of Christmas. Can’t argue. But then it started getting earlier and earlier. What started as December 1st turned to the day after Thanksgiving, turned to the week before Thanksgiving, then to November 1st! What?! No, no, and no! I like me some Elvis Presley “Blue Christmas” as much as the next gal, but by the time December even rolls around, I can’t help but what to shoot the radio upon hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” for about the billionth time!

If the Christmas overload wasn’t bad enough, as it turns out, Black Friday devoured up the very essence of Thanksgiving. It wasn’t that long ago when the fourth Thursday of November was reserved for family get-togethers, football, stuffing, gravy galore, and a massive turkey. Here, everyone spent the entire evening warmly cooped up inside someone’s home, enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company. Slowly but surely, this tradition has dwindled away, all because of Black Friday sales. What originally started as stores opening up a few hours earlier in the A.M. the day after Thanksgiving with blockbuster deals has turned into an All American Nightmare for a true American institution.

In the past few years, I really began noticing this downfall. Some of those happy bargain hunters amongst the family would call it an early night on Thursday, admitting that they wanted to get home to get in a few z’s before hitting the stores first thing the next morning. Then, thanks to the likes of Wal-Mart, who happens to be opening their doors for Black Friday sales at 6:00 p.m. THURSDAY evening, along with numerous other guilty retailers, the big Thanksgiving family gatherings have diminished pretty much all together. Now, just about everyone is out the door by six o’clock, because either their job in retail requires that they have to come in and work that evening or because they’re the crazy shoppers that have decided that saving on a toaster is more important than spending time with the family.

What used to consist of the smells of a cooking turkey and the sounds of happy chatter come Thanksgiving evening have now been reduced to the smells of Dawn and Ajax hard at work and the sounds of a dishwasher hustling to clean up the gravy residue from stained dishes, because Thanksgiving dinner has now been deemed as Thanksgiving lunch where the family gets together for a short while to heave food into their mouths before running for the door by sundown.

Perhaps it’s just the nostalgic in me, but when I’m asked about what my ideal Thanksgiving would comprise, I can’t say that embracing the freezing cold while standing outside of Best Buy ready to participate in the American consumer equivalent of Spain’s Running With the Bulls, preparing to trample or be trampled in the angry throng of fellow bargainers who are ready to toss even children aside just to make a clean beeline for the Samsung for $300 off, does.

Coming from an avid music, movie, books, and electronics lover such as myself, I get wanting to take advantage of some fantastic deals to help keep your wallet a little thicker this shopping season, but watching my neighbors morph into uncivilized animals in the process isn’t my idea of a good time.

Following logic, one would think that when the very title of the sale special specifies “Black FRIDAY,” that having it infect the holiday on the day prior seems utterly ridiculous, but what do I know? Unfortunately, I’m still left to ponder, what happened to Thanksgiving?


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