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Goodbye Thanksgiving and Togetherness, Hello Black Friday 2.0

When I was a kid, the month of November held a single holiday – Thanksgiving. And you know what we did during the weeks that led up to that day? We played in piles of leaves, enjoyed the crisp autumn temperatures, and looked forward to the end of the month when we’d get to see loved ones and eat delicious food until we felt we’d burst. Christmas wasn’t the focus in November and we had to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to put up our Christmas tree and holiday decorations. I loved every second of it!

I’m not sure if anyone else shares the memories above, but November has certainly changed since then. Now, instead of enjoying the last weeks of fall and waiting for Thanksgiving, we glue our eyes to sale emails and Black Friday advertisements, listen to Christmas songs before Halloween decorations are removed, and look forward to the end of the month when we get to line up at all hours of the night in anticipation of door-busters and insane deals on crap that no one should ever want or need. Thanksgiving dinner? Being thankful for all that you have? What’s that? We’d rather get in fistfights with grannies at the mall over a big-screen TV!

Sears recently announced that they’ll be open on Thanksgiving this year, and people are already jabbering about the incredible deals that will be available. I’m sure this will start a chain reaction and we’ll probably see more stores doing the same thing to compete with Sears. Thanksgiving Day was already overlooked in favor of Black Friday and Christmas, but this is just ridiculous. Are we really that obsessed with sales to the point of skipping Thanksgiving Day altogether? If there’s ONE time of year that should be reserved for family gatherings, togetherness, and giving thanks, it’s Thanksgiving Day. Some things should be sacred, and having family time on a specified day of the year is one of those things. What about the retail employees who have to work on Thanksgiving Day for these blowout sales? Doesn’t it matter that they’d like to spend time with their families?

Donating to Toys for Tots will put some goodwill into your Black Friday shopping!

Donating to Toys for Tots will put some goodwill into your Black Friday shopping!

If you can’t resist Black Friday deals and you line up to fight crowds at the mall with your family on Thanksgiving Day, then I hope you’ll consider helping others and spreading goodwill while you’re at it. There are needy families out there who can’t afford the gas to get to the mall, let alone to eat a satisfying Thanksgiving dinner or to buy toys for their children to open on Christmas day. Some of them may be homeless and others could be holding on to their assets by a thread, but all would immensely appreciate aid of any sort. If you do your shopping before Thanksgiving, then consider picking up a few extra non-perishables to donate to a local food pantry, shelter, or drop-off donation box. Or, if you love to shop on Black Friday and you get all sorts of magnificent deals, then maybe you could drop off a couple extras at your local Toys for Tots (or you can click here for more donation ideas and how-tos). Whether you donate as an individual or donate in a business name, you’ll be making a HUGE difference!

This isn’t the first blog post in which I’ve expressed my distaste for the over-commercialized Christmas season, and I’ve gotten quite the reputation as a Scrooge or a Grinch because of it. Let me clear that up right now. It’s not that I hate Christmas, I just wish it would keep its pants on until the month of December and have the same feeling of goodwill that it had when I was younger!

Why are we so eager to skip over Thanksgiving to do some chaotic shopping? Why are consumers willing to hurt other people (by trampling, punching, or otherwise) just to get first crack at a sale item on Black Friday? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Shouldn’t the holiday focus be on goodwill instead of material goods? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see less “BUY NOW” mentalities and more togetherness and generosity during the holiday season.

Are you running any promotions or donation programs that advocate goodwill this year? And what are YOU thankful for?



Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. Jill writes for the QLP blog and assists with the company’s social media accounts. You can connect with Jill on Google+.

Comments

  1. Juliette

    I’m with ya on this one. I still love to make a large Thanksgiving dinner and spend it with close friends. Then on Black Friday I don’t leave the house. I’ll put up the tree and listen to Christmas music but I won’t go anywhere in the car. Ever since working retail on Black Friday only once years ago I decided to avoid all of that hype both out in stores and online. I’d rather have a relaxing day of sleeping in and decorating.

    Now, I will admit there are some Christmas tunes I listen to year round: Trans-Siberian Orchestra. :)

    • QLP Jill

      Thanks, Juliette! It’s frustrating to express my thoughts on this subject because people always say: “Wow, you’re such a Grinch! Why do you hate Christmas so much?” They completely miss my points and take everything out of context. I like Christmas music, decorated trees, and presents as much as the next person…but after Thanksgiving has ended. And I’ve worked in retail as well, and I know first-hand what it’s like to work on the holidays and be absent from your loved ones. It sucks! And I’ll definitely be donating this year – I’m going to the store this week to pick up some non-perishables and toys to drop off.

      P.S. I enjoy the Trans-Siberian Orchestra as well…in fact, it’s one of the only holiday CDs I don’t get tired of. :)

      • Juliette

        The whole “shopping” for the holidays thing is why I try to do mine all year round, picking up things online here and there when I find them. It lets me chill with my friends (since none of my family is local) during Thanksgiving dinner. But yeah, I can’t bring myself to put up the Christmas decorations till the day after. Just a tradition that stuck with me. Now some of those halloween decorations stay up year round…but that’s not unusual if you know me. :)

        Hooray for donations! Thanks for reminding me, I need to choose an angel from the Angel Tree soon!

        Agreed on the TSO! Straight No Chaser has a couple of good Christmas albums as well.

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  3. Bret Bonnet

    I feel EXTREMELY sorry for those hard working employees at SEARS who are most likely being FORCED at gun point to work this Thanksgiving.

    I have to say, I recall walking around the mall (which I barely EVER visit anymore) around the middle of October and I recall there being more Christmas decorations than Halloween decorations. I know Halloween is your FAVORITE holiday Jill so I figured this would only make you MORE upset. :(

    I can see BOTH sides of this argument… Stores/businesses depend on this time of the year for the majority of their annual sales/revenue, and anything they can do to maximize holiday spending, even at the risk of alienating OTHER holidays, most likely makes good BUSINESS sense.

    I know I’ve caught myself looking for SOMETHING to do the morning of Thanksgiving as dinner is often NOT served until later in the afternoon. I CAN see myself hitting a store or two, door busters or not, just to pass the time. There are also some people who maybe don’t have extended families or friends who they celebrate the holidays with and they’d like nothing more than to be able put this time to SOME use, in this case, beating the black Friday holiday rush.

    I’m just waiting for stores to be open Christmas Day – if anything, maybe NOT so much for crazy deals… but EARLY RETURNS! – JK! :)

    I know I’ve caught myself late at night on Christmas Day longing for some food after leaving a family members house for an early dinner… Pizza delivery anyone?!?!? :)

    • QLP Jill

      I do agree that it makes good business sense, and we’re in advertising so I completely understand WHY retailers are resorting to this. However, that doesn’t mean I have to like it! I’ve never had the desire to shop on Thanksgiving or on Black Friday, but maybe it’s because I despise shopping in the first place (unless it’s online). And yes, there will be plenty of returns the day after Christmas! I don’t leave the house THAT day, either! ;)

  4. Cybernetic SAM

    It is funny that this is today’s blog – JJsuiteG and I were just discussing the utter disgust we have for the holidays. Only in recent years have I truly been aware that the spirit of Christmas has been completely removed and replaced with the need and instilment that commerce is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Instead of enjoying time with our children and relatives we are too busy making our own Black-Fridays list and depleting our bank accounts only to have MORE STUFF. What’s wrong with rushing to the nearest charity or cause website to donate in someone you love’s name and say: Merry Christmas, you gave a heart and a chance to someone or something that needed it? I personally have my mind made up that should I have children I will diligently shield them as much as I can from the modern commercialized holiday. We should only have the ability to find love and love is based on what size LCD big-ass television we get this year. Or how flooded the living room is with gifts so that our children don’t resent us at earlier and earlier stages of life. I believe Black Friday has benefits in feeding the economy, but at what cost? There is an interesting documentary (you can watch the whole thing free on this site) if you would like to further learn about the ridiculous lengths we consumers go through in order to make a jollier holiday.

    • QLP Jill

      STUFF is the key word here. How much value do these Black Friday deals hold to us after the holidays are over? And how many of them end up back on the shelves where they originally came from due to returns? I wish you luck on your goal to shield your future kids from this situation, but I can only imagine it will be 10 times worse by then! :(

  5. QLP Kid

    I think everyone should shop online…

    -QLP Kid

    “It’s How the Midwest Was Won…”

    • QLP Jill

      I do all of my shopping online and I’ve never gotten hurt doing so! ;) That being said, I still think people should dedicate at least a few hours of Thanksgiving to the people they love!

  6. Matilda

    I don’t know….I may go to Sears shopping if my family starts driving me crazy on Thanksgiving. We’ll at least I have another option besides a gas station or the movies!

    I have to say – I did see SEVERAL stores with Christmas decorations out in early October this year – it was actually pretty annoying.

    • QLP Jill

      Thanks for your comment, Matilda. I’m happy you agree that October is too early for Christmas decorations! It seems like there’s no break between October/November/December holidays anymore…

  7. Meg Hofer

    Tell me about it. My dad paid me $100 to put up all their Christmas decorations–tree and all–yesterday. Even though we’re going to have a house full of people for Thanksgiving eating around all the Christmas decorations. Thanksgiving and Christmas at their house has become like Christmas and Christmas Two: The Aftermath. Now, I understand why my dad does this–with all the current stresses of the year, he wants to feel Christmasy earlier. But last year it went up the week before Thanksgiving. This year two weeks. In a few years, I’ll be going over in August to set up the tree before the Labor Day guests can arrive. And with each week earlier than December that all these decorations go up, Christmastime seems one week less special to me. If we had Christmas every day, there would be nothing meaningful about it anymore, and that’s where my dad and people of this mindset seem to be headed. And this is on top of the fact that department stores do their best to remove anything special about the Christmas holiday and make it part of a marketing scheme, leaving Thanksgiving dead and irrelevant in their wake. It’s just sad, is all.

    • QLP Jill

      Meg! Thanks so much for commenting! :) “Christmas and Christmas Two: The Aftermath” is a PERFECT description of what November/December has become. We spend half of October, all of November, all of December, and part of January being exposed to Christmas and corresponding decorations…but why? Why must Christmas be so greedy? I immediately feel my blood boil when I see Santas and decorated trees before I’ve even enjoyed Halloween. Every year I become increasingly numb to Christmas and I resent it a little bit more (as you said, it loses its meaning when we’re beaten over the heads with it so early), which is depressing. I remember my brother and I would beg our parents to set up the tree before Christmas, and they’d always make us wait until the day after Thanksgiving. It was exciting, nerve-wracking, and SPECIAL at the same time – I wish I could still say the same! Unfortunately, Thanksgiving suffers the most and the last few weeks of fall are bitched about as well. People think November is too cold but yet they can’t wait until sub-zero December-March temperatures and hours of snow shoveling? I don’t get it…

    • JJ "Suite G"

      I’m with you on this one. Halloween was always my favorite holiday growing up, and I always regarded Thanksgiving Day as being, for the most part, family-oriented. To see these staples of my childhood prematurely encroached upon and overshadowed by the bass-ackwards ideals of modern consumer culture doesn’t sit too well in my stomach.

      To coerce potential Christmas shoppers into hitting the stores as early as Thanksgiving Day is basically to disregard the meaning of the word “holiday” to begin with–they’re not supposed to be synonymous with “sales.” We’re supposed to be forced to sit at home, thinking about why big money is evil and why family values are important and so on and so forth.

      It’s a sad day when my annual introspection is interrupted by the demands of commerce. :’(

      The times, they are a-changin’…

      • QLP Jill

        Hey Suite G, I hear you! The sales come earlier and earlier each year. I read an article that claimed to spot the first “Black Friday” reference as early as the second week of October…isn’t that insane? I think the days of family-oriented gatherings is over and the days of group shopping and fighting have begun!

  8. Barb

    GREAT rant, Jill. I just refuse to participate in all of that. My clock radio was set on a station that started playing Christmas music November 1. I changed the station. I shopped on Black Friday once and it was a horrible experience, so now I stay home. Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday (I know – I think Halloween may be yours…), so I savor the changing leaves and the cool temps and the candles that smell like cinnamon and apples. December is Christmas. No ifs, ands, or buts. This year I did a little early online shopping (which ended up being a good thing considering my newly unemployed status). Nonetheless, Halloween is NOT in August, Thanksgiving is NOT in October, and Christmas is not in November. You’ve got the right idea! Love ya!

    • QLP Jill

      Ugh, don’t even get me started on Christmas music coming too early! I was in a Kohl’s a couple days ago and they were playing a holiday music station already – I wanted to leave immediately. Halloween is indeed my favorite holiday, and Thanksgiving isn’t far behind…that’s why I get so upset when they’re screwed over every year! I also enjoy the changing leaves, the 50-degree temperatures, the rainy days, and the various pumpkin-flavored or -scented goodies that are scattered about. We’re definitely on the same page! Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment! :)

  9. Isaiah

    Jill. Yes and yes.

  10. Antonio Banderas

    First, let me say that I live the majority of my life through the eyes of a realist. That being said, I can understand why people forsake Thanksgiving/Halloween for the sake of commercialism. Let’s me honest, the Black Friday deals are really good (the hassle of the crowds not so much) and everyone is afraid of their children (I assume) hating them for the rest of their lives because they didn’t get them the “must have” toy of the season.

    However, if there is one thing in life that I want to be idealistic about more than anything, it’s hoping that eventually the holiday spirit that I remember (from childhood) will be rekindled in society. I remember my parents teaching me that the holidays were about the simpler things: spending time with family, helping those in need, enjoying the season and basking in the holiday feeling. I don’t remember them mentioning anything about presents/material possessions being the focus. Sadly, I believe that this is the way things have gone. Society has changed since you and I were children. The kids of today are interesting in cellphones & texting and checking their online social networks. The simpler pleasures like TMNT & My Little Ponies have passed. I think that the holiday shopping craze is just the evolution of people trying to keep up with all of this and make their children love them (see above paragraph). If it makes you feeling any better, in a strange way, people running out to buy stuff on Black Friday is really just a modern, slightly misguided way of trying to maintain the holiday values you mentioned (or some of them at least).

    • QLP Jill

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, “Antonio.” :) Of course I recognize that the Black Friday deals are good, but it’s a shame that it’s beginning to cut into Thanksgiving. I’ll probably check Amazon on the 26th just to see what specials they have going, but I’m not going to venture out to any retailers. I also want to do everything I can for the needy this season going forward because I feel like I haven’t done nearly enough to help in previous years. Oh, and I definitely see what you mean about the “must-have toy of the season,” too. These days you CAN buy love, and many parents go overboard!

      You also bring up an interesting point about a new, misguided kind of holiday values…I didn’t think of it that way but it makes sense. Maybe family togetherness will someday be synonymous with family shopping expeditions? At the rate we’re going, it’s certainly not far off!

      P.S. You get brownie points for mentioning Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and My Little Pony! Now THOSE were the days! :)

  11. Pete

    hello I came across this in digg – your post is marvelous.

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