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Is It Time to Move Thanksgiving?

Happy 2014.  Now all of the holidays are behind us.  The Christmas decorations have been taken down, the New Year celebrations are over and resolutions are fresh in our minds.  Thanksgiving seems like a distant memory, even though it was barely a month ago.  We blame it on the whirlwind of activity since then, but maybe there’s another reason why it’s blurry in our minds.
It’s being eaten by Christmas.

Last year Thanksgiving had the nerve to occur on November 28th, which cost the American consumer SIX WHOLE DAYS of shopping convenience.  But, some retailers took a bigger bite out of Thanksgiving by opening that day.  We saw it coming.  They’ve been looking at it and drooling for years, taking a bigger portion and thinking nobody was paying attention.  You know—like Aunt Helen thinking nobody noticed here sneak an extra dinner roll or eat a second piece of pecan pie.

I guess we can’t blame them.  Thanksgiving is so good everybody wants a taste.  Everybody, that is, except the hordes of people camping for days on end in front of the big box stores, hoping to lead the charge in shopping battle known as Black Friday.

But Black Friday has turned in Grey Thursday.  I guess if you’re being forced by your employer to skip that time with your family and friends so you can ring up sales for greedy, often violent consumers, Grey Thursday is the right term for the holiday formerly known as Thanksgiving.

I know I’m going to sound like a crotchety old man for talking about the 1980s when I worked in retail.  The stores were closed on Thanksgiving but we still got paid something for that day, depending on the average number of hours we worked per week.  Black Friday meant we opened an hour early and closed an hour later than usual.  There were no stampedes, pepper spray, injuries, or parking lot tent cities.  Yet, somehow, people got their Christmas shopping done.

Here’s one reason why people in other countries hate us: those videos that go viral that show Americans shoving each other out of the way and trampling each other like their lives depended on being the first one to lay their hands on a Play Station.  We don’t have soccer hooligans.  We have competitive shopping hooligans.  Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.

I propose we move Thanksgiving before it is absorbed by Christmas.  Maybe early October would be far enough away to save it, though I’m not even sure about that.  Stores already have Christmas decorations up at Halloween, which is downright creepy when you think about it.

Some might argue November is the traditional time tor Thanksgiving, but you can buy turkey, cranberries, canned pumpkin and everything else you need year-round thanks to canning and freezing.  There’s nothing traditional about how the holiday is currently observed. 

The day was set aside to be thankful for what you have.  A good way to do that is with a feast, not working in a crowded store for minimum wage, waiting on people who haven’t bathed in a week because they camped outside for a week.

I’m not trying to be morally superior here.  I’ve been just as guilty as anyone about stuffing my face and having my tryptophan coma in front of the TV without a shred of gratitude.  But, in recent years I’ve made a conscious effort to spend at least part of the day feeling thankful.  

Black Friday stampede.  Photo:

Another reason to move Thanksgiving: winter weather.  Every year we see new stories about people stuck in airports or their cars because snow or ice crashed the party.  Here in the northern hemisphere the weather can do some tricky things that time of year.  It only adds to the stress some people have over the holidays.  Let’s have Thanksgiving at a time of year when over the river and through the woods can’t turn into over the ice and through the blizzard.

Think of Thanksgiving as a car parked next to a big box store that’s being expanded.  Move it or lose it.