Recently a news story predicted that in a few years, Thanksgiving would be nothing more than a shopping day. It may not even take a few years.
When I was young, Thanksgiving dinner was special. I was lucky to live near my grandparents on both sides, along with aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. My mother was a great cook, and my memories of holidays are strong and resilient. What memories will my generation be able to create for our children and grandchildren? What about my grandchildren’s children some day?
I refuse to shop on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday. I care more about my family than saving money. I like to save money. I know I will be able to buy Christmas presents at a reasonable price because sales that start now will continue until Christmas Day and even after. I remember shopping on the day after Christmas for wrapping paper, tags, ribbon and cards, but I didn’t neglect my family to do that. (Most likely, I dragged them unwillingly along with me!)
I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’m not a very good cook. I wish I had inherited my mother’s skill. I wish my mother could come to my house, help with the cooking, and sit down at the table with all of us. I wish I could eat her apple and pumpkin pies. I’ll try to make her apple pie using her recipe, but she will be sitting in the nursing home eating turkey dinner and apple pie without her family around her. Even though I plan to go and sit with her while she has dinner, it makes me sad to remember how things used to be. I want to create those memories for my own family, but everyone is so far away. I’m so lucky to have my youngest daughter and her family with us this year and her in-laws, but Christmas this year will be spent without our children and grandchildren.
I had to change my regular radio station this morning because they have started their Christmas music early. It’s all Christmas music from now until Christmas. By the time Christmas comes, I know I will hate all Christmas music, so I changed the station until after the holidays. I can’t find Thanksgiving decorations or plates or napkins now. Soon I won’t be able to find Christmas decorations when I want them because everyone is buying them now. I have a friend who finished her Christmas shopping a week ago, and she wants to meet me for breakfast or lunch to exchange gifts. I’m sure she has no idea that I will not be shopping for her until a few weeks before Christmas.
I suspect retailers know that some shoppers are disgruntled. They also know most Americans just can’t resist a bargain and buy into the hype about buying right now or everything will be gone. I want Thanksgiving and Christmas to be like my childhood ones. I want family gatherings. I want homemade cookies. I want handmade gifts like my parents used to make for me and my children. I want to back up to when times were tough but special and meaningful. I don’t want a houseful of flat-screen TVs and electronics. I want homemade fudge, punch and cookies, Christmas lights, and the serenity of church on Christmas Eve. I want simplicity and my family close by. What I don’t want is Christmas carols in mid-November and stores trying to make Americans shift their focus from family to shopping. It makes me sad to realize that I just might be in a minority and that on Thanksgiving Day while my family is enjoying being together, stores will push us to leave the table to buy things we don’t really need.