Taking Back Thanksgiving

Quick, what’s missing from this photo of a Nordstrom store interior?  You’ve got the gorgeous merchandise, well-heeled shoppers, helpful salespeople.  The only thing conspicuous by its absence — especially the week before Thanksgiving — is the absence of any holiday decorations.

Last week I came across a Facebook photo of a sign that was supposedly taped up to a Nordstrom’s store window.  The sign read:

We won’t be decking our halls until Friday, November 23.  Why? We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.  Our stores will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving festivities.  On Friday, our doors will open to ring in the new season in style.

The sign was handwritten on crumpled paper, so I was naturally suspicious. so  I rushed over to the nearest Nordstrom’s to see what the deal was (well, that was the excuse; my real intent was to buy a new pair of rain boots).

The message is for real.  It’s not a joke, not an urban myth that belongs on Snopes.com.  There was actually a poster outside the Nordstrom’s entrance saying the exact same thing (professionally printed in a style much more befitting to Nordstrom’s than ballpoint pen on paper).  Inside, the store was filled with busy shoppers; the lack of red and green and gold and silver didn’t seem to deter them from spending their hard-earned money.

I’ve always liked shopping at Nordstrom’s and now I have one more reason to do so.   For shoppers who have been inundated with carols and tinsel over the airwaves, over the radio waves, online and in stores since even before Halloween, it’s so refreshing to see one store deliberately bucking the trend.  Poor Thanksgiving: over the past decade we’ve seen it squeezed between Halloween and Christmas almost to the point of nonexistence.

And what’s taking over? Black Friday, a tradition that is the very opposite of what Thanksgiving stands for:  commercialism, materialism, the every-shopper-for-himself mentality that doesn’t care who gets trampled or killed in the quest for a deal.  Store opening hours have gotten earlier and earlier, from 5AM on Black Friday to 4 a.m., to 3, 2, 1 to midnight, finally encroaching on Thanksgiving Day itself.  This year Walmart is opening its doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  Pretty soon their employees will be forced to give up their Thanksgiving holiday entirely, spending it with shoppers instead of their families.

There’s another, subtler consequence to the early holiday onslaught.  The longer marketers push the holiday message into our consciousness, the more I feel pressure as a parent and a person to “Do” the holidays the way “They” say I should.  Look at this beautiful photo of an impeccably decorated holiday table, complete with turkey and cranberry garland and candles and color-coordinated presents!   Yes, I know it will take hours, no days, of work, but we have this Make-Your-Own-Garland kit you can purchase, and besides we’re telling you about it way in advance, so you have lots more time to prepare!  Look at all these Advent Calendars, and things to fill them with!  Start early!  Make the holidays special!  Make memories!   I’m already exhausted, and I’m not even one of those poor employees rushing to stock their store shelves on Thanksgiving Day.

I know the holidays are coming.  Trust me, you don’t need to push ads in my face to remind me, because my kids will remind me soon enough.  I just want  a few days to relax with my family and recharge before the holidays actually begin.  I want to take a walk in a park, not a mall.  I want to enjoy the browns and golds and yellows before I move on to the reds and greens.  So I’m grateful to Nordstrom’s for putting its foot down and reminding everyone to treasure the one holiday that is uniquely American and uniquely focused on what we can give instead of what we can get.

On Thanksgiving Day, you’ll find me with my family, enjoying our time together.  And If I need to get any shopping done between now and Thanksgiving Day, you know where to find me.


Bonggamom also blogs on her personal blog Finding Bonggamom, her review blog Bonggamom Finds, and on The Savvy Source parenting blog.

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