November 21, 2012 5:54:18 PM
Happy Thanksgiving or -- as it will soon be called -- Thanksmas.
This year, some of the national retail stores are opening their doors this evening, which renders Black Friday something of a misnomer.
Upon learning of this new development, there was some effort to petition the stores to delay their opening until at least after midnight. Alas, far more people thought it was a good idea to secede from the union than to stop stores from opening on Thanksgiving evening. So the big chains will roll out their "door-buster'' bargains as early as 8 o'clock tonight and there is a strong sense that it will be a successful strategy.
Next year, who knows when the stores will open. Perhaps, stores will go ahead and open shop at 8 in the morning and treat bargain-hungry shoppers to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on tables set up between the Electronics and Ladies Fashion departments.
Somehow, we have come to the point that on the same day we set aside to earnestly give thanks for all the things we have, we also embark on a frenzied effort to acquire the things we don't have.
We truly do "pause" to give thanks.
But on this day, at least, it seems inappropriate to use this space to grouse about anything.
Certainly, there is some cause for dismay when we consider the consumerism that seems poised to trample Thanksgiving and obscure the meaning, spirit and warmth of Christmas. Yet there are practical reasons that Christmas shopping is something that should not be discouraged.
Businesses large and small rely heavily on Christmas shopping to earn profits, which helps hire and retain employees and funds much of our city, state and national government. Most people know by now that the origin of the term "Black Friday'' is related to that point in the year when businesses have covered their costs of operations and begin to make a profit.
It has been a difficult four years for our country. Certainly, a robust Christmas shopping season is something we should all wish for, without reservation.
We just wish that shopping would not encroach on Thanksgiving, which unlike Christmas, is not encumbered by fears of making the wrong choices. No one ever laments that the turkey is the wrong color or style, after all.
Of course, the two holidays have often been linked in the commercial world.
In 1939, President Roosevelt actually moved up Thanksgiving from its traditional fourth Thursday in November. That year, the holiday fell on Nov. 30 and FDR, responsive to retailers who lamented that the date would mean stores would have only 24 shopping days before Christmas, moved the holiday to Nov. 23.
FDR's decision, announced in October, was met with derision and chaos. Calendars showed the wrong date for the holiday, for example. Schools and organizations had to adjust their schedules with scant notice. It was a fiasco, called derisively "Franksgiving" by many people, especially Republicans.
It is doubtful that any president would again tamper with the idea of moving Thanksgiving out of its traditional spot on the calendar, although you can imagine a situation where retailers might happily support the idea.
The only thing that will effectively prevent the Christmas shopping season from overwhelming Thanksgiving Day are the shoppers themselves.
Is there a threshold that these zealots will not cross?
It's likely we will soon find out.
Until then, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and encourage you to shop this Christmas season and shop locally, of course.
But, please, can you wait until tomorrow?
We would be thankful for that.
1. Voice of the people: Don Newman LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
2. Lisa McLeod: One horrible thing wrong with schools NATIONAL COLUMNS
3. Lynn Spruill: A watershed moment LOCAL COLUMNS
4. Slimantics: Our greatest unofficial national holiday LOCAL COLUMNS