Monday, October 29, 2012

THANKSGIVING COMES FIRST







Yup. Here comes the bitter old fart, out of hiding, for one more pre-holiday-season rant. Yes, boys and girls, it's time once again for my annual imitation of Sisyphus. It's time to roll the Thanksgiving Comes First boulder up the mountain of Christmas advertising that seems to inundate us earlier and earlier with each passing year.

(I was going to forgo this rant this year. I'm tired of beating my head against the wall. I figured maybe I'd just shutter myself and ignore as much of it as possible. I've since come to realize, however, that there are a bunch of you who have fought the good fight with me each year who don't deserve having me quit on you. So, here we go again! Yay!)

For those who are somewhat new here, I do this same thing, around this same time every year, because I am an optimist at heart. I truly believe that the cheapening of our holidays can be stopped. Do I believe it will happen right now, because of this post? Hardly. I've done the same sort of thing for seven years now with limited success. It could happen eventually, though. It will take your help, and help from your friends, and then help from their friends.

I'm extremely gratified that many of you, in years past, have joined in the effort. Perhaps you'll find some entertainment in doing so again this year? I hope so. As always, I'll do a follow-up post, in a couple of weeks, with links to all blogs and websites that have helped in any way. To make sure I don't miss your efforts, drop me a line if you're joining in.

(Much of what follows, aside from having appeared here for a number of years, was printed in The Boston Herald last year. I assume their permission to re-print. They paid me for it, though, so if they'd rather I take this down, I'll comply immediately.) 


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

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. 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 and was limited in duration. 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 speaking of another was allowed.

Now? Few retailers care. 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 the displays and advertisements. The only thing that counts is that ledgers get into the black. Restraint and taste are passé. It seems the more outrageous the spectacle, the better for the bottom line.




Make no mistake about it: I’m a capitalist. 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. What I am in favor of is standing up and being counted. That's fair. Opinion can drive a market in the right direction without resorting to the force of government intervention. If you decry this incursion upon our holiday ground as much as I do, I hope you'll join me in raising a slight ruckus. My hope is that we make enough noise to affect the situation. If we can’t, then I suppose we deserve this deplorable 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 fully before Christmas season begins; 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 - should be told in no uncertain terms that you despise their hideous advertisements and that you will not shop at their establishments unless they cease and desist; that malls who put Santa Claus on display before Veterans Day should be ashamed of themselves; then please consider doing something about it.

Should you be as depressed 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 find out how you feel. My guess is they'll agree with you. If you invite them to write a blog about it, perhaps they will. And maybe they'll ask their friends, and so on. If enough of us do this, we might have some success.

Please title your post "Thanksgiving Comes First". If we all do that - use the same posting title - 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, of course. I'm not looking to drive people to this blog. I'm only trying to make a bit of difference concerning something that truly rankles me.

[This cartoon is a favorite, so I choose to run it even though I don't know whose original property it is. If you are the artist, or know who the artist is, I'll gladly give a great big link, and credit.]


If you wish to use the snazzy graphic at the top of this page, or any of the other original graphics here, either on your blog entry or as a semi-permanent graphic on your sidebar, please feel welcome to do so. I'd appreciate it. Having a visual symbol that folks see repeatedly would be a big help.

Following are my most personal reasons for wishing to see something positive occur. Yours certainly don't have to match mine, by any means.

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 Christmas seem just a huge greed-fest. However, if you aren’t a Christian, your take on matters is certainly as important. If you're Jewish, for instance, or maybe a Muslim, it might make you mad to see some of your own 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.)

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

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. Next week, I'll write about this again. If many of you join in, it will be a joyous post detailing all of the successes, 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.



(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's certainly fun, it doesn’t accomplish 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, that's how I feel, 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.

Sooner or later, if we speak up and ask others to do likewise, I honestly think we can have some effect. I’m not saying that we’ll bring the corporate world to its knees, nor is that even slightly what I hope we accomplish. 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 watching an episode of Mister Rogers.





On one of his shows, Fred 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. Afterward, Mister Rogers looked into the camera and spoke. He said, "In music, the silences are just as important as the loud parts."

The silences are just as important as the loud parts.

That’s a very profound statement. It’s true, isn’t it? Without the silences, it’s all 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. Maybe send off a letter or two to your local newspapers. I've had a couple published, and some of you are much more eloquent than I am. Let us know what sorts of responses you receive. As promised, I’ll list (and link to) all of your blogs come next week.

For now, Google the phrase "Thanksgiving Comes First" and you'll find some past postings. Even that simple act, in and of itself, 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.


56 comments:

Kat said...

I was waiting for you to post this. Even my kids are on the bandwagon with us now and were so upset when they saw Target setting up Christmas decorations on October 5th. Can you believe that garbage?

I will be joining in again too. Probably on Nov 2nd or around there. I'll let you know.
Thanks!

Craig said...

Aaaahhhhh. . . (*inhaling deeply of the clean, crisp air of Truth*) All is right with the world. Suldog's 'Thanksgiving Comes First' post is in place. Sisyphus Lives!

All rib-poking aside, you know I'm with you in this. I'll probably be posting my traditional Advent post this year, as in years past. It ain't exactly the same thing as what you're addressing here, but it does cover some similar ground. . .

Uncle Skip, said...

I would boycott the Target store, but it's too far away.

At least you got this up earlier this year.

Last night I saw that Target Christmas ad ...and a Walmart layaway ad ...and almost shut off the TV. Then I remembered I was wathcing the World Series.

Michelle H. said...

Walmart had Christmas songs playing two weeks before Halloween. There was even Christmas set up near the Halloween candy. Ick.

Daryl said...

what timing .. Toonman said this morning that he saw his first Christmas commercial.. i said well Targets been running them for over a week now .. and wait til Suldog sees one .. and i told him all about your crusade .. you know i will be adding my 'voice' to this crusade ...

messymimi said...

Thank you, again.

My post will appear tomorrow.

Suldog said...

Kat - Thanks! I'll look forward to it!

Craig - As always, your Advent posting would be a welcome addition. As you know, the religious aspects of this are very important to me.

Michelle - Kick down the display and set it on fire. I'll pay your bail.

(No, not really! Stop!)

(not my uncle) Skip - Congratulations! That was a thorough sweep. Who would have thought Kung Fu Panda would out hit Prince Fielder by about 450 points?

Daryl - Thanks! You (and Toonman) are the best!

Suldog said...

Mimi - Woo Hoo! That's what I call service!

Jen Forbes said...

I went to the mall the other day to do some shoe shopping and what did I see?

You guessed right...

A Christmas tree's and other decorations already being put up.

Christmas retail push in October?!

Retailers run amok with greed,and the sad thing; every year it gets earlier and earlier in my area.


Suldog said...

Jen - See my advice to Michelle :-)

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Well you know I'm a Halloween lover too but you better believe I'll support your sentiment come Thursday this week! Onward & upward! Fight the far-too-early Christmas machine!

And side note - please stay safe in this storm xoxoxo

Tabor said...

Since you commented you know that I posted on this a while back because Christmas Holiday decorations were already intruding on my seasonal sensibilities. So I will not post again but I do agree Thanksgiving First.

Buck said...

I'm in. As always.

Jinksy said...

We've got All Souls' Eve and Bonfire night to come here next, thanks to Guy Fawkes and his big bang. Harvest Festival is a moveable feast around now, too... Brits don't do Thanksgiving as such.

Pearl said...

Well of course it comes first, but what about their SALES?! What about the BOTTOM LINE?!

I just refuse to do any of my "shopping" until I'm good and ready. Oh, and here and there, I write a letter or two. :-) Just to make 'em wonder.

Pearl

Michelle H. said...

I'm waiting to see if the storm blows it down first. Saves on the extra work. Hopefully, you won't get hit bad. Stay safe and dry.

Stephen Hayes said...

Under normal circumstances I would agree with you; Christmas ads should not come before Thanksgiving, much less Halloween, but I do want the merchants to have a good season to help the economy, so I'll cut them some slack, even though I know a dangerous precedent is being set.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

I have nothing against putting the merchandise out as it arrives
Heck, the sooner it's sold the better it is for the economy ...unless everyone's going deeper in debt
My gripe is the ads
The only ones that bother me more are the political ads, which, with any luck, will end in a week

Saz said...

how many posts/words have you managed to wring out of thanksgiving o Master?

u r hilarious
saz x

i beati said...

The day has been cheapened it's all throw aways less collectibles of real value plastic plastic- noone takes time to just be..it's all run run run- I miss old fashioned caroling, and every relative bringing their special dish and staying forever, I miss watching the snow fall at midnight in the lights and coming home from mass knowing a baby was born who would save the world.I miss it all. It lives in my heart but gosh I miss it !!

Babs said...

Rah!

Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even Halloween,( not that I care about that holiday like some do), have been cheapened. I agree.
There is very little sacred anymore, I've noticed why, many don't agree and I'll spare you the reason I think it is.

Everyone is so afraid of stepping on others toes they don't care that the Christmas season remains with Christ instead of the X. I hate that , it's not Xmas it's Christmas...it doesn't take that much to write it out either...If you take Christ out of Christmas its Xmas...I believe when people took HIM out, the season was cheapened along with many other things but the retailers ran wild.

If a turkey is sacrificing his life he should at least get two or more days. At least honor the leftovers. :)

I understand and appreciate your rant..people in my family usually expect that from me,so it's nice to see someone else start it instead. :)

Rant on......

Suldog said...

Stephen - Due to Thanksgiving being the earliest it can possibly be this year (Thank you, President Roosevelt) I have to believe there is more than enough time to shop between the two holidays. Just saying!

Suldog said...

IT - My bottom line, as I said to Stephen, is that there is more time between the holidays this year than in any other year. With all due respect, my friend, the bastards can wait.

Saz - More than enough, no doubt. What I'm trying to do now is wring some out of other folks! Love you, dear! If you ever get to these shores, you are invited to my place for the holiday!

Suldog said...

Pearl - Send those letters! Yeah!

Sandy - As long as you believe, it's still there!

Jeni said...

This is one of those times when I am actually happy that I tend to be more than a bit reclusive, don't go out all that much these days and therefore, my system and senses are not as likely to be assaulted by the pre-Christmas rushes. Glad to see you rolled this campaign out again though and hopefully, I will get a post written to go along with your theories. Peace.

Matt Conlon said...

I will very gladly post something either later today, or at some point very soon, definitely before Thanksgiving...

Suldog said...

Jeni - You have been one of the faithful for a long time, and I thank you most sincerely! God bless!

Jenn - A great writer such as yourself (Author of "Ripple The Twine", for those who don't know) will no doubt write something very wonderful. I look forward to it.

Tabor - Thanks!

Buck - It goes without saying that you would be in. What will not go without saying is "Thanks!"

Jinksy - The same invite I extended to Saz applies to you. If you're ever here during the holiday...

Matt Conlon said...

I just created a facebook page for the "Thanksgiving Comes First Cause". Come and "like" it, let's make waves on FB!

http://facebook.com/thanksgivingcomesfirst

Suldog said...

Matt - Thank you, my friend! Magnificent!

Babs - I am more than happy to show your relatives that some other ranter agrees with you wholeheartedly. But, if you're a ranter at heart, you won't be able to resist. Go ahead. Give in. Post something flammable!

Matt Conlon said...

Anyone who posts a link here to their post, I will also share it on the facebook page!

Unless of course you would like to come and share it yourselves! Which I encourage you to do!

I shared the page on my wall, I can't believe how quickly the likes are piling up!

Paul Mashburn said...

I concurr!

Barbara Shallue said...

I haven't written one yet, but I'll join in again this year. I just kept the icon up on my sidebar all year :) Love the FB page - way to go, Matt!

Barbara Shallue said...

Oh, even though the Herald paid you for it, usually that's just for their use and it still belongs to you.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Okay, mine is up

Hilary said...

It's been a while since I set up a Posts of the Week where I usually link to your crusade at this time of the year. Since I'm not Amurikan, I figure that's my best way to help.

For you, I shall work on a POTW and get it posted with a link to this blog entry within the next few days.

Uncle Skip, said...

Mine will be up first thing tomorrow. I gotta get this Series thing out of my system.

Ya know, it's funny. A lot of Detroit folks are upset by the minimal contribution of Cabrera and Fielder on offense. I don't hear anyone saying anything about Posey.
That said, neither team would have gotten that far without the contributions all of those guys made.

michelle.starling said...

Okay, I had to come over and read since you left a comment on my blog. I do like this post very much. I hope you'll visit my blog again since during the month of November I plan to do atleast 1 post per week on Thanksgiving (probably more). I normally do not decorate for Christmas until the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving but I was so proud of my cheap find, I just had to show it off. Hope you'll visit again.

Jackie said...

You go guy!!
You know that I support you on this. Hope it goes viral on FB. Yes I do.
Hugs,
J.

Maggie May said...

Well we don't have Thanksgiving......
Halloween didn't really take off in my area and Christmas will be very much remembered for what it is meant to be by me. Too commercialised by far.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

rayfamily said...

I always look forward to this, and just posted mine. Thanks Jim!

Kat said...

Alrighty, Suldog. My post is up!

http://fritterfarmers.blogspot.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-comes-first.html


Thanks!

OldAFSarge said...

I'm in Suldog!

You can see my spiel at http://oldafsarge.blogspot.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-comes-first.html.

Thanks for writing this. Brilliant, simply brilliant. Oh by the way, love your blog. You are one hysterical dude.

Barbara Shallue said...

Mine's up! http://barbarashallue.typepad.com/musing_in_long_hollow/2012/11/thanksgiving-comes-first.html

Kaz said...

The story behind this pic is that a woman running one of those large cookie shops in a mall that started playing Christmas music on the PA system starting on November 1st had had enough:

http://i.imgur.com/4bOKQ.jpg

Three Hundred Sixty Five said...

Hah! We're gonna get the bastards this year! ha ha ha ha (madness)
Oh, yeah, and I've done my post....

Joan said...

Please keep posting this each year. Love it.

Rebecca said...

Ah, it's already that time of year again... One of your best posts, ever... and so very true! :)

Lisa Johnson said...

Love that you have a FB page for this too! I'm not writing a separate post, but am mentioning this in another post that's food and Thanksgiving related.

Suldog said...

Kaz - Thank you for the cookie!

Karen Deborah said...

I came to read this because of Kat. AGREED but every store here has had Christmas up in some fashion since before halloween and I wouldn't have a store to shop in. I'd like to have an all home made Christmas. It does ruin it. Instead of being the most special holiday it's the one we dread, the pressure is on as soon as people start saying how many weeks, how many days...get your shopping done early BLECH! You hit a hot button on me. What I do protest is Black friday I refuse to shop it. Last year it finally happened and the shopping started on Thanksgiving. I think the best way to do this is to STOP. Don't particiate. DO something for Jesus for his birthday and feed the hungry or help with something worthy of His birth....I feel a blog rant comming on think I'll join you.

lisamccolgan.com said...

My contribution is up now.

http://lisamccolgan.com/2012/11/05/thanksgiving-comes-first-2/

CLR said...

I found you via Joe of 'cranky old man' and when I saw HIS title of Thanksgiving First, I nearly wept. I too, am a holiday 'traditionalist'. So I came on over to YOUR blog, adored you instantly and joined your blog. What a wonderful idea to send a letter to the editor. And I am completely IN on doing a post about this and passing it on. I am currently doing a contest give-away so I will incorporate it as a question AND as an encouragement to spread the word through their blogs as well. As soon as my post is up, I'll come back and put my link here.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Jimmy said...

Hey Jim, I will have one posted in a couple of days for sure, I have not forgotten my Friend, will post the link as soon as it is up.

CLR said...

So my post is up -

http://hammockinthehoneysuckle.blogspot.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-first-question-6.html

Looking forward to reading everyone's posts!

Jimmy said...

Hey Jim, I got my post up, give it a look and let me know what you think Thanksgiving Comes First

http://www.rebelwithaclue.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-comes-first.html

Joanna Jenkins said...

Hi Jim, Better late than never! Here's mine...
http://www.thefiftyfactor.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-comes-first.html
And THANK YOU for doing this. I really appreciate it and have enjoyed reading what others have to say too.
Have a great Thanksgiving!
jj