Let me just put it out there, front and center, that I love the Christmas holiday season.
I watch sappy Hallmark Channel Christmas movies (and cry at those Hallmark card commercials), love to drive around and see Christmas lights, and think there is nothing more moving than singing Silent Night by candlelight at church on Christmas Eve.
Even the annual ribbing I get on Christmas morning from my now-grown children — “Remember the year Mom made baked french toast with flakes of Teflon rust from that old pan in it?” — can’t dim my excitement.
But I also love Thanksgiving — a holiday whose sole purpose is to remind us to be grateful. I’m fortunate that in both the Miller and Crowell families, Thanksgiving has always been a holiday celebrated with family dinners, so all I have to do is look around the table, whether it’s surrounded by few or many, to count my blessings.
All this background is to set the stage for today’s rant at retailers.
These days, the Christmas retail marketing season begins before the Halloween stock is off the shelves. Thanksgiving? What Thanksgiving?
I’ve never participated in the shopping melee that is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally jumpstarts the Christmas holiday shopping season. I have no desire to go shopping at 4 a.m. to fight crowds and lines and rudeness to save some perceived discount (although I have been known to check out Charm Harness on Black Friday).
This year, it seems more and more retailers are giving in to “Black Friday creep, and are opening on Thanksgiving. They say they’re just giving consumers what they want. Indeed, a National Retail Federation survey found of consumers who planned to shop over the Thanksgiving holiday, 31 percent said they planned to go on Thursday.
I say to you instead: “Please stay home.”
Stay home, or wherever the Thanksgiving dinner may be, and be intentional about spending quality time with family or friends. Linger at the table. Play euchre or Monopoly. Two years ago, it was so nice outside, we played corn hole.
If you don’t live near family, swallow your pride and ask friend or co-worker what he or she is doing on Thanksgiving, and try to wrangle an invitation for dinner (just don’t show up empty-handed). Conversely, even if you’ve got a full house, look around you and see if there’s someone you know who might be alone on Thanksgiving and ask them to join you.
There is a growing list of retailers who won’t be open on Thanksgiving: American Girl, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath and Beyond, Burlington Coat Factory, Costco, Crate & Barrel, Dillard’s, DSW, GameStop, Hobby Lobby, HomeGoods, Home Depot, Jo Ann Fabrics, Lowe’s, Marshalls, Menard’s, Nordstrom, Patagonia, Petco, Pier 1, Publix, REI, Sam’s Club, Talbots, T.J. Maxx, and others. (Although I find it kind of hypocritical that Sam’s is closed, while its sister company, Walmart, is leading the open-on-Thanksgiving pack.)
Sorry, J.C. Penney, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Radio Shack, Target, Sears and Macy’s, I’ll take my Christmas shopping elsewhere, thank you.
Phil Lempert, veteran food and retail marketer who is known as the Supermarket Guru, said it best in a recent column: “Millions of Americans will travel to be with families and friends on Thanksgiving weekend… While people may find joy in securing Christmas gifts for loved ones early and affordably by sharpening their elbows on Black Friday, to do so could well mean sacrificing being together with those same loved ones who are right in front of them at home on Thanksgiving Day.”
So what is it you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving? Family and friends, or saving a buck?
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