Monday, September 28, 2009

THANKSGIVING COMES FIRST





As in past years, I was going to post this sometime in October. I can't wait, though, as retailers are putting Christmas merchandise on the shelves NOW. In September.

It was bad enough when they encroached on Thanksgiving. Now it's happening before October.

I'm just this side of going postal.

I am seriously giving thought to destroying the next retail Christmas display I see. I mean it. Words just aren't doing it for me now.

If, in the next few weeks, you read a news account concerning a man from the Boston area being arrested for kicking over some shelves in a store...

If you'd consider helping in the ways outlined within the body of what follows, I'll be extremely thankful. You may be saving not only Christmas as it should be, but also my sanity.

******************************************************************

When I was a kid, Christmas was magical. The lights were colorful and amazing, making the night a warm, bright, wonderful place to be, even if it was 20 degrees outside and the snow was up to your waist in drifts. If you're old enough, you'll recall that Christmas carols gave you the same sorts of butterflies in your stomach that would be associated with love at a later time in your life. Cities and towns put up decorations on the main streets, with the larger municipalities erecting lovely Christmas trees in central spots.

All of the above worked, on a spectacular level, because it happened at an appropriate time. No retailer (or city or homeowner) dared breach the unofficial line of demarcation – Thanksgiving. It was an unwritten rule that one holiday would play out completely before another was allowed to be spoken of.

Now? Nobody cares. Whatever you can peddle, whenever you can peddle it, is the mantra. It matters not a whit how many people’s memories are trampled, nor how irreligious your displays and advertisements. The only thing that counts is that you get into the black. Restraint and taste are passé. The more outrageous the spectacle you make, the better for your bottom line.

Make no mistake about it: I’m a capitalist. I believe in a system wherein the market regulates itself. I’m all for everybody making as much money as they can, as fast as they can, in whatever way they can, so long as nobody is physically hurt in the process. I’m not looking to enact laws against early Christmas advertising, nor am I in favor of jail terms for such nebulous concepts as greed. What I am in favor of is standing up and being counted. If you decry this incursion upon our holiday ground, I hope you'll join me in raising a slight ruckus. My hope is that we'll make enough noise to affect the situation. If we can’t, then I suppose we deserve this despicable state of affairs.

I’m going to give it a try. I hope you'll help.

If you believe, as I do, that Thanksgiving should play out before Christmas; that Christmas carols should not be heard on the radio before at least Thanksgiving evening; that advertisers who dare to encroach upon Thanksgiving - or, God help us, Halloween - with their hideous advertisements should be told in no uncertain terms that you will not shop at their establishments; that malls who put Santa Claus on display before Veterans Day should be made ashamed of themselves; then please consider doing what I'm going to ask of you.

Should you be as incensed as I am concerning Christmas schlock, please post a "Thanksgiving Comes First" entry on your blog. Write from the heart. Everybody who visits your blog will know how you feel. Perhaps they'll also write about it, and so will their friends, and so on. I hope that, if enough of us do this, we might make some small impact.

Please title your post "Thanksgiving Comes First". If we all do that, it will make a bigger impact. If you wish to reference this post, or other posts with a similar title, please do so. It isn't mandatory. I'm not looking to drive people to my blog; I'm just trying to make a difference concerning something that truly rankles me.

If you wish to use the snazzy graphic at the top of this page, either on your blog entry or as a semi-permanent graphic on your sidebar, I'd appreciate it. Having a visual symbol that folks might see repeatedly would be a big help.

Following are my most personal reasons for wishing to see something positive occur.

I'm a Christian, so I have more than an annoyance factor at work here. I think that cheapening the holiday, by expanding it beyond reasonable bounds, does a world of disservice to my religion. It gives people a false view of it, by making it a greed-fest. However, if you aren’t a Christian, your take on matters may be even more so than mine. If you're Jewish, for instance, it might make you mad to see some of your own festive holy days being given short shrift because of this overkill. If you're an atheist? I imagine it doesn't make you happy to be bombarded by this stuff. Whatever your reasons, please consider telling the world that you've had enough.

(I'm not encouraging obscenity, but I won't discourage it, either. Make it funny, or use it to emphasize a point, but I’d prefer that you don’t be gratuitous just for shock value. Obscenity always works better when it is an organic part of the whole. Be creative.)

(Here's my latest idea: I think a good value, given to merchants who forgo early advertising, would be a nice and proper thing to offer. For instance, Nordstrom's was a retailer that specifically advertised, last year, that they would NOT be filling the aisles with Christmas merchandise until after Thanksgiving. God bless them! We should, at the least, patronize folks like that.

Better yet, offering the combined readership of ALL OF OUR BLOGS as a potential source for retailers who agree not to give the short end of it to Thanksgiving would be nice. If we could give FREE ADVERTISING ON OUR BLOGS to those who solemnly swear to hold in abeyance the tinsel and trees and carols and other such stuff, until after Thanksgiving, that might carry some weight. Just a thought. I've always considered it nicer to offer incentives than to promise punishments.)

So, to reiterate:

If you believe as I do, that Thanksgiving Comes First, then please let your readers know where you stand.

If you post a "Thanksgiving Comes First" entry to your blog, please let me know by leaving a comment here. On Friday of next week, I'll write about this again. If we can get this thing rolling, it will be a joyous post detailing all of the successes and pointing folks to all of the other blogs, including yours, that have decided to fight the madness. If it turns out to be a dismal failure, I'll write about that, instead.

I would suggest, if you are unable to blog about it, that you send letters to the editor of your local newspapers, to other media outlets, as well as letters to the offending merchants. As a matter of fact, even if you DO blog about it, this extra step will go a long way. I had a couple of letters published last year. I'm betting you could have similar success.


(Image courtesy of Thanksgiving Corner)

In order for this thing to have any real effect, it has to keep spreading via others. While I truly LOVE anything you do in response, we have to ask others to do the same. If we don’t, then we’re just ranting. While that might certainly be fun, it doesn’t accomplish nearly as much as making our feelings known and also getting others to make their feelings known.

I firmly believe – and I’m sure you do, too – that the great majority of people are sick to death of the way Christmas has been commercialized. I’d be willing to bet that whenever you talk to anyone about this stuff, they almost always say, "Yeah, me, too!"

Don’t you think we hold the majority opinion on this? If there were some way we could vote on it, wouldn’t we win easily? I sure think so. I think that for every person who loves hearing Christmas music at the beginning of November, there are ten of us who want to blow up the radio it’s playing on. I know that’s the way I feel. And I really, truly LOVE Christmas music. I honestly do. I own some 35 or 40 CDs full of Christmas music. But it has its place, and November (or, God help us, October) really isn’t it.

Are we tilting at windmills? I’d like to think we're not. The response in previous years, from all of you kind folks, gives me hope that it’s a winnable battle.

Can you imagine how sour the pusses of some corporate execs would be if they received printed-out copies of blogs that say "Thanksgiving Comes First"? What if all of us called or wrote some radio station, telling the programming director that we decided to stop listening? If we all wrote a 'letter to the editor' at our local papers, we could definitely expect some to be printed. Last year, mine was - and I’m not nearly as eloquent as some of you. Who knows how many good people might see something like that and decide that they, too, would like to reclaim the season from the merchants?

If we were to flood retailers with e-mails saying that we won’t shop at their stores – giving them the idea that it will cost them actual profits - they’ll listen. Profit and loss is what they judge by, so if we speak with our wallets and purses...

Sooner or later, if we all do one or two of these things, I honestly think we can have some effect. I’m not saying that we’ll bring the corporate world to its knees, nor would I want that. This isn’t a power trip. But, if we can get them to ramp it down a bit, that would be an accomplishment of which we could be proud.

What this is all about, truly, was brought home to me while I was watching Mister Rogers the other day.


You may already know that I consider Fred Rogers to have been an actual living saint. He really was a nice man, as I detailed in a previous post. Anyway, on one of his shows that aired recently, he was explaining the concepts of noisy and quiet. In order to illustrate the difference, he took his television audience to see a musician friend of his.

Fred had the musician, a percussionist, play his many instruments. Some were very loud, while others were soft and gentle. Afterwards, Mister Rogers looked into the camera and spoke. I have to paraphrase, but it will be close enough. He said, “In music, the silences are just as important as the loud parts.”

That’s a very profound statement. The silences are just as important as the loud parts. It’s true, isn’t it? Without the silences, it’s just noise. The silences – the pauses, the gaps, the unfilled spaces – are what give the notes their power and meaning. And when it comes to a holiday, the silences – the quiet times preceding (or even within) the holiday – are extremely important. They give the celebration its power and meaning. That’s why I care so deeply about this. We all need some silences. They’re just as important as the loud parts.

Please keep writing, as well as asking your friends to write. Send off a letter or two, and let us know what sorts of responses you receive. As promised, I’ll list (and link to) all of your blogs a week from Friday.

For now, Google the phrase "Thanksgiving Comes First" and you'll find many past postings. That simple act, in and of itself, also helps to spread the message. Getting many hits on Google, for the phrase, will bring it to the attention of some more good people.

Thank you for listening. God bless you if you help.


40 comments:

Desmond Jones said...

Well, Suldog, you've hit on one of my personal 'hot buttons', altho I confess I've mostly despaired of any effective 'resistance'. . .

In fact, when I married into Molly's more 'traditional' Catholic family, I encountered an approach to Christmas (and Advent) that was completely different than even such 'restraint' as I had grown up with. The 'traditional' Catholic approach treats Advent (the weeks containing the four Sundays before Christmas) as a 'contemplative' time in preparation for Christmas. They don't even sing Christmas carols; and they don't put up their trees until Christmas Eve. Which is about as out-of-sync with the culture-at-large as is possible to be. Anyway, I blogged about it a few years back; here it is, if you're interested. . .

lime said...

you know i agree with you. i'd about hit the roof if i saw stuff in the stores now already. seriously...

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Rah rah bloody rah!! Only thing is, we don't do Thanksgiving in the UK. I agree with you entirely though, we do need the pause, the silence. Also DOES ANYONE CONSIDER THE MOTHERS AND WIVES? We are the ones who feel all that pressure as soon as summer is over; when the shops start pushing Christmas cards, Advent calendars and TOY ADVERTS (aghhhh!!!!) down our throats!!! We are busy...we know it's coming...we don't want to worry about it until after Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes) and Halloween (thanks for that America)!! We want to take a few autumn walks, get the coats out, adapt to the climate change, make sure the kids are doing their homework. Go away Christmas Shop Gremlins and come back later!!!

Sorry, I think I needed that.

Buck said...

I've signed on to this effort in the past and I'll be re-enlisting this year, too.

I haven't seen any Christmas stuff in this neck o' the woods as yet, but I'm certain it's not far away. Gotta get an early start on account of the economy is SO bad, yanno?

Horseshit.

Anonymous said...

There's a web poll on wbz..com

last time I looked it was 90% thinking TOO SOON

http://www.wbz.com/pages/596087.php

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Unfortunatly, I have voiced my opinion about this crass behavior of certain retailers to jump on the bandwagon way too soon, (but September, we've hit a new low now, haven't we?), and I've had the experience of women getting MAD at me for saying so. They are shopaholics and enjoy doling out too much money for too much crap. That's WHY the retailers put the crap out because women, (sorry it's us chicks that buy most of this crap) BUY IT. If the stuff languished unpurchased in the isles they would not put it out so early.

I feel your pain. The world is in a mess. People's priorities are so out of whack I can't relate. I have no problem with capitalism either. Especially now, when so many retailers and restaurants are going under. But Christmas in September? Or October? No, no, no!

Good luck with your mission.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

I agree with your mantra, as I did last year..and we don't have a thanksgiving, though I guess our harvest festivals could be considered to be on a similar tack.

I take stock every now and then and run my I'm thankfull/grateful for speeches in my head.

AT christmas this is in my heart and I try and spread my thankfullness around...

I'm kinda with you though in keen spirit!

Gennasus said...

The Christmas stuff was making appearances in shops here in early September and I think I received my first Christmas catalogue through the post in August. August!! I was still thinking summer then.

As you know, we don't have Thanksgiving here but I agree that it all starts way too soon. Early December would be soon enough for me.

Ananda girl said...

I can do that. In fact, a week ago I was having a terrible time in Sears and photographed their Christmas crap already on sale. There amid the plastic pear ornaments was Charlie Brown's sad little Christmas trees for sale... Charlie Brown's spirit of Christmas tree on sale before the Great Pumpkin could even visit! It was just too much in an already terrible evening. Yes, I will post about it.

BrianCUA said...

I'm glad to take part in Dedham. Columbus Day comes first, dammit!

Ericka said...

holy schnikeys! are you kidding me? already? i mean, i'm doing christmas stuff but only 'cause i'm making it and i'm super slow.

i haven't seen anything in the stores here yet, but i'll re-up this year.

Thimbelle said...

Count me in (again):

http://creepingtowardsnormal.blogspot.com/2009/09/thanksgiving-still-comes-first.html

Jeni said...

I don't remember if I did a post on this last year or not -and right now, I'm not awake enough to go check and see. (Right now, I'm contemplating going to bed an hour or maybe 2, before my normal time of about 5 a.m.) But I'm gonna try to put my thinking cap on -hopefully this week (if I remember that long) and do a post on this topic too. Glad you appreciated Dr. Grumpy's post too -he's a hoot but once in a while does a rather serious post too -like that one.
Peace.

Carolina said...

Ah! You are so right. 'Sinterklaas' used to be our national festive day on December 5th, closely followed by Christmas. Now Sinterklaas-stuff is appearing in the shops in August!!!!!!!!! Although Thanksgiving isn't a Dutch holiday (yet), I'll be joining you in your quest. Not only because I feel I owe you something ;-) (I'd like to offer you my humble apologies again for you-know-what). I have to write something first, but I'll let you know if I post it.

Although 90% of consumers are against the early appearance of Christmas in the shops, apparently they are buying, otherwise the shopkeepers wouldn't make so much expensive shelvespace for it. Would they? Stop buying!

Jewels said...

I totally agree! Watch for tomorrows post, I'm with you! Grrrrr.

Michelle H. said...

You know my personal feelings about holidays, so I don't have to recap here. But I joined the bandwagon last year as I will do so again this year. Hope you don't mind if I just copy/paste from your sentiments considering... well, you know.

Jazz said...

I saw my first Christmas tree in mid-August. I shit you not.

I'm already sick of Christmas and it's still months away.

But since Thanksgiving is in early October here - Thanksgiving comes first doesn't quite have the same punch as in the US.

Still, I'll try to give it a shot.

Suldog said...

To all who have replied here:

I know I thanked some of you via e-mail, or by commenting at your posts, but I just wanted to toss out a big, wet, kiss to ALL of you once again. You'll be featured in a post a week from Friday.

All others - please let me know about your posts so that I can give you the linky-love, too!

Diana said...

Since I write a gardening and nature blog it is a bit of a stretch to do a Thanksgiving Comes First post. I did manage to tie it in to a garden themed post and include a Thanksgiving Comes First graphic. I'm thinking about printing copies up and taping them to Christmas Displays in local stores. My own small little protest.

This year shouldn't it say Halloween Comes First?

Buck said...

All others - please let me know about your posts so that I can give you the linky-love, too!

I'll be waiting until the first part of October.

Joan said...

Dr Grumpy wrote a good one on Sept 24, Dear President Obama.

DK @ Knucklehead! said...

I could NOT agree more, Suldog. And living in California it's even worse. Seeing Christmas stuff in stores when it's like 85 degrees outside is just WRONG.

DK @ Knucklehead! said...

I could NOT agree more, Suldog. And living in California it's even worse. Seeing Christmas stuff in stores when it's like 85 degrees outside is just WRONG.

jinksy said...

Might be hard to get anyone to listen to that phrase here - I can see puzzled looks - "Thanksgiving?" I can hear the merchants cry...

Andrea said...

definitely too soon...i totally agree with you!

Inge' said...

I found you through Expat from Hell.
I don't know if he answered your question about Matthew or ot so I thought I would at least make an attempt to do so.

The most common reason for Matthew being the first gospel is that it was long thought that it was the first one written. Not all Bible scholars believe that today.

Also if you look at the Gospel of Matthew in view of Mark and Luke, Matthew is considered a "teaching" gospel. Matthew gives more of Christ's teachings and in a way that is easy to remember.

Also once the New Testament was formed, Matthew provides a bridge from the Old to the New.

I hope this answers your question. If EFH gave a better answer, I would love to know it!

Shrinky said...

Okay, having scrolled down, I realise you already know we don't do Thanksgiving over here in the UK, but I sure do get your point. One lovely thing about escaping London for this sleepy isle is it's like stepping back 30yrs in time, I honestly don't get that hi-jacked feeling any more. I really and truly wish you well, it's a cause well worth yelling about!

Chris Stone said...

Patronize Nordstrom's? you nuts? have you been in that store? lol.

I'll give it a whirl, though I can't promise a post!

One of my memories is caroling in Bedford, MA on Christmas eve. We'd bake cookies and walk around the neighborhood singing. One particular Christmas my mother had to hold an umbrella over my father's accordian because of the snow.

*Of course, the reason for such a picturesque memory was my mother's desire to get us greedy little monsters out of the house. She always hit her limit about Christmas eve.*

Ribbon said...

don't do thanksgiving in my corner of the world... I'm not sure I even know what it's all about.

Daryl said...

Actually its Halloween that comes first .. just sayin'

♥ Braja said...

Both are commercialists dreams, and I and the rest of the world, mostly, are sick to death of the US pushing both down the throat annually. Just sayin' :)

Chris Stone said...

Oh. *crotch taffy. lol.*

Sniffles and Smiles said...

What a wonderful idea, Suldog!!! Thanks for doing this!!!! Thanksgiving has gotten a short shrift! And thankfulness is so very important as we launch into the most commercialized season of the year!! Wonderfully well-expressed!! Bravo! Bravo! Hugs, Janine

Suldog said...

Braja:

How can you say that Thanksgiving is a commercialist's dream? The only things sold specifically for the day are foodstuffs. It's a day to gather family and friends together and give thanks to the creator. If it has been made anything else by someone, I'm not aware of it.

The Things We Carried said...

I will take you up on this writing venture! In the next week, I will do a post.

Carolina said...

I've posted something related to your little rant here. I know it doesn't make sense because it isn't really about Thanksgiving, but we have the same issue over here. Only about Sinterklaas in our case. But it's the principle ;-)
Good luck on your mission!

Jenn said...

Not that it surprises me to see you are doing so but I'm SO GLAD you are voicing this 'campaign' again this year. I have my post all ready to go. However, I am a huge fan of Halloween as well. So in the spirit of why this Thanksgiving Comes First campaign was started in the first place, I am going to post mine on November 1, after I celebrate my other favorite holiday. I'll come back and let you know when its up. :-]

A Woman Of No Importance said...

I'm here for the ruckus Can I kick off now??! Christmas baubles in thr restaurant of a hotel I was at for a conference - In September!!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr...

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Matt said...

My wife actually found your blog this morning while doing a little research on ours (www.takebackthanksgiving.com). Well written article. I could agree more.