The Disappearing Thanksgiving—Teaching My Kids Why Retailers and The Media Have Calendar Confusion

We all knew it was going to happen. The day after Halloween kicked off the retail Christmas campaigns, and from the local stores to every other television commercial, we are bombarded with holiday marketing. In fact, if you need any fall-themed décor for your Thanksgiving (still weeks away, mind you), then you’re sh*t out of luck. Those shelves have been cleared to make room for Christmas, Christmas, and more Christmas.

Apparently, unless you sell food, Thanksgiving has become the invisible, neglected, middle child of the holiday season. It’s one step away from being locked in the basement.

Don’t get me wrong–I love the holidays, and I plan ahead and craft year-round to make them affordable. I’m not opposed to anyone who wants to get the jump on their plans by shopping early, and I’m adept at tuning it out and minding my own business. However, when the retail machine threatens the core of Thanksgiving, maybe we’ve gone too far.

The Heathens seem to really have taken notice this year. G-Man is baffled as to why we are seeing so many Christmas commercials already, and both boys have heard all about how some stores will be open Thanksgiving Day from the morning news. I’ve tried to explain to them how retail works and why retailers undergo an obsessive media drive to get us to spend, spend, spend, but the boys continue to see it as nonsensical moves by confused companies who cannot read a calendar. I think they are onto something. Even as kids, they see something wrong with this picture.

Shopping on Thanksgiving? Thanks, but no thanks big box stores.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that you will never, ever, find me out of my house on Black Friday. Nothing destroys the whole “peace on Earth, goodwill toward men” vibe faster than watching normally sane people fight like Roman gladiators to be first through the doors of a store, or to snag those “limited number” deals. Retailers spend a lot of money to create that sense of desperate mania in us, and we are supposed to feel like we are missing out on something important if we don’t hurry up and participate. If that’s your thing, more power to you.

However, Thanksgiving is an important holiday. Wherever you fall on the American history opinion spectrum, I think we can all agree that a day of fellowship and gratitude is a good thing, and those two traits are often scarce in our hectic lives. Instead, many will be forced to work, and will have little to no opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. Meanwhile, these mega-companies will continue to encourage us to abandon our tables, families, and traditions, so we can show up to their doors and spend, spend, spend some more. That’s just really kind of sad when you think about it. What is even sadder is that retailers have it within their power to avoid this. PICK A DIFFERENT DAY! They made Black Friday a thing. Then they made Cyber Monday a thing. Why not make “Second Saturday in December” a thing?!? Why does it HAVE to be Thanksgiving? I bet their CEO’s aren’t working that day…grumble, grumble.

So, that’s my soapbox for today. While I can’t stop the beast that is retail marketing, I can show the kids that we aren’t playing into it. The Thanksgiving decorations are up, and we’ll keep this month focused on learning, serving others when we can, and preparing for a holiday that is truly about togetherness. If you’ve got any better ideas, I’m all ears, but let’s save Thanksgiving from that basement, shall we?

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