The weather is getting colder, department stores have put away the Halloween decorations, and the red cups at Starbucks have made their appearance — November has begun.
Early November is a strange time of year. It’s not yet Thanksgiving, not yet winter, and not yet the holiday season.
However, for some strange reason, every department store is already decorated for Christmas. New York streets are already strung up with lights; Christmas carols have made their way on the radio, and holiday commercials will undoubtedly be playing no matter what channel you flip to.
Society makes the mistake of skipping straight from Halloween to Christmas without the recognition of Thanksgiving. Autumn’s pumpkin spice lattes are swapped for holiday-happy peppermint hot chocolate, and graveyard decorations trade places with enormous inflatable Santa Clauses.
Thanksgiving has always gotten the shorter part of the wishbone. Due to a misfortunate placement we can only blame the pilgrims for, Thanksgiving is sandwiched between two of the most famous holidays of the year. Thanksgiving is the middle child of the holiday season. Overshadowed by his older brother Halloween and outshone by his little brother Christmas, Thanksgiving shrinks into the shadows, often forgotten about.
The moment the clock strikes 11:59 on Oct. 31, department stores get ready to strike. I can only imagine a room full of Santa’s elves hidden among the racks of clothes and silverware, dressed in black, waiting to spring into action. The second the clock declares it Nov. 1, hundreds of elves leap forward, tearing down the Halloween decorations and stringing garland around the store. A candy cane trail to the register is built and a train is added around a 20-foot Christmas tree for accent.
Thanksgiving is like Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles — patiently waiting for a birthday party that her parents never remember to throw.
There’s no explanation to why Thanksgiving gets less affection, but we can speculate.
By jumping straight into the Christmas spirit, retailers have the opportunity to screw consumers out of even more money. Stores go to great lengths to trick consumers into thinking Christmas is closer than it actually is. The music and decorations are meant to confuse the average shopper into buying gifts sooner rather than later. One would think starting earlier would only mean getting all your shopping done sooner, but we all know no one is ever truly done Christmas shopping. There’s always something else to buy, and department store owners know this.
Retailers are doing a disservice not only to the American people but to Thanksgiving as well. We, as a society, lose money while simultaneously hurting the humble holiday that is Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a day to spend with family and reflect on what you’re thankful for — not a day to spend pouring over the newspaper, frantically clipping coupons and devising a shopping strategy.
Do yourself a favor this year: show Thanksgiving a little respect. Resist the urge to hum “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” while driving to work this month, and refrain from setting Miracle on 34th Street to record on the DVR. Do, however, give in to the peppermint hot chocolate — even Thanksgiving can forgive you for that one.