When I returned to Cedar City after going to the World Fantasy Convention in early November, I was surprised – and appalled – to find merchants, especially our single “big-box” chain store – busy replacing the Halloween displays and immediately putting up Christmas decorations and sales promotions.  There was little space or mention given to Thanksgiving.  And I wondered if this happened to be a mere local phenomenon.  Then I went on my whirlwind tour for Scholar and discovered that in all the cities I visited, the same thing was happening.  In fact, more than two weeks before Thanksgiving, I didn’t seen any commercial references to Thanksgiving, only to Christmas, and in most stores and malls Christmas music was playing.  Then I read where some merchants were pressing to begin the Christmas madness sales at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, forcing sales personnel to stay up all night or to do with little sleep – to cram in a few more hours of sales madness, pushing “black Friday” into Thanksgiving Thursday.

Years ago, I remember reading a short story by Fred Pohl called “Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus,” that was set in a future where the “Christmas season” begins in September, and, of course, I’m sure that many readers found that delightfully exaggerated back in 1956, when the story was first published, but Fred certainly anticipated a point we’ve almost reached.

To say that I find this trend disturbing would be an understatement.  Halloween and Christmas squeezing out Thanksgiving?  A Christmas buying season now beginning in October?

Yet, on reflection, it’s certainly understandable.  Thanksgiving was a holiday originally celebrated for giving thanks for having survived hard times and having attained modest prosperity.  And how many people really give thanks today?  After all, don’t we deserve all the goods and goodies we have?  Aren’t we entitled to them?  Then, too, Thanksgiving doesn’t put that much loot in the pockets of the merchants.  It’s a time for reflection and quiet celebration at home.  It requires personal time and preparation to be celebrated properly.  You just can’t go out and spend money and buy love or assuage your guilt with material gifts.  You have to consider what your blessings are, and what you’re thankful for… and reflect upon those who don’t have much for which to be thankful.

Christmas and Halloween have much in common in current American culture.  They’ve become all about the goodies – both for the consumer and the merchants… and both our son, who manages an upscale men’s fashion outlet in New York City and my editor have made the point that the comparative success or failure of the year depends on how much they sell in the “Christmas” season.  They’re certainly not alone, and many jobs, and the earnings of many workers, depend on such sales.  Yet, the economic health of a nation depending on holiday conspicuous consumption?  That’s frightening in itself. Add to that that such consumption is crowding out times of personal family reflection and an appreciation of what we do have for a frenzy devoted to what we don’t have.

Economic necessity or not… couldn’t we still reserve a small space of dedicated time for Thanksgiving between the buying and selling frenzy?









2 thoughts on “Good-bye?”

  1. Tim says:

    Way back when…ok not so far back but in 1984 I worked at an upscale deparment store in Southern California called Buffums. Starting Sept 1st it was my job to man the Christmas Section. So while annoying is not a very recent happening


  2. Neal says:

    It has gotten so bad that I will not even listen to a radio station playing Christmas music anymore. It is O.K. for a couple of days, but FOUR weeks straight?

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