Wednesday, October 19, 2011


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 ask indulgence from my Canadian, European, and other non-US readers. Much of this will mean little to you, but it's very important to me. If it's any solace, I'll be glad to listen to you go on about how, say, Guy Fawkes Night isn't what it used to be, or why we should celebrate our Thanksgiving in October like some of you do.)

I do this same thing, around this same time every year, because I am eternally optimistic. 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 six 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.

If you'd consider helping in any of the ways outlined within the body of what follows, I thank you most sincerely.

First, some old fart reminiscing, then some suggestions.


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.)

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 is a retailer that specifically advertises that they will NOT be filling the aisles with Christmas merchandise until after Thanksgiving. God bless them! We should, at the least, give credit to such retailers.

Better yet, offering the combined readership of ALL OF OUR BLOGS, as a potential source of advertising for retailers who agree not to give the short end of it to Thanksgiving, might be something that carries actual weight. If we could give FREE ADVERTISING ON OUR BLOGS to those who solemnly swear to hold in abeyance the tinsel and trees and carols, until after Thanksgiving, do you think that might make a difference? I'm willing to offer my blog space to any retailer willing to make that promise. I'll give you a full-size ad, for one day, where my prose usually runs, if the ad includes something to the effect that you promise to not have Christmas merchandise on your sales floor prior to the day following Thanksgiving. There may be a number of other bloggers willing to do the same. Contact me at, if interested in either offering your blog space or taking advantage of my (our?) offer.

(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. 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.


i beati said...

Personally I than God every day but love the idea of a special day to do so- love the tradition where people go around the table telling why they are thankful, for me sinxce I do not eat it's a quiet day where I am retrospectful and indeed blessed and grateful..I never run to the stores the next day or even consider commercialism that quiet introspective time..

Daryl said...

I promise to do a blog post next week .. gotta say its Halloween what comes first .. but I have several times in the last week or so said Thanksgiving Comes First to a friend who has already begun her you-know-what shopping and I dont mean turkey and indian corn

Mich said...

You're so right about Thanksgiving not being given enough time. When I worked in retail, every shop I worked for broke out the Christmas stuff (or, I should say "holiday") the DAY AFTER Halloween. It drove me nuts! What about Thanksgiving?!? I'm just glad I don't have my friend's job--she works in a Hallmark shop and they break out the Christmas stuff in JULY.

I mean I get high on life for Christmas, but I like to enjoy Halloween and then Thanksgiving first. One holiday at a time, people!!


Michelle H. said...

Always a worthy cause that I enjoy joining in. I have to say, my neighborhood does put Halloween before Christmas, holding a parade. But, if I remember correctly, I only see a few Turkey day decorations on store windows mixed in with Christmas decorations. And I haven't seen the abundance of early Christmas commercials yet.

Jeni said...

I was reminded a couple of days back about you and your Thanksgiving Comes First campaign and thought about it then that I should zap an e-mail off to you because what I saw was a notice that a company was not going to do any Christmas advertising until after Thanksgiving. It was very similar to the Nordstrom's notice you posted but don't believe the one I saw was from that firm. Now, I can't remember what company posted that or where I saw it. Dang! I knew I should have sent that to you at the time but I foolishly thought I would remember the company and such and tell you when you posted to your blog again. Moral of this comment is don't put off things today cause the mind may not remember them tomorrow! Maybe we are tilting at windmills but if we don't, then who will try to change this affront then?

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

I was wondering when you were going to get around to this. Now I can finally move it from the bottom of the blog to the top and remind everyone that Halloween comes next.

Kat said...

I am so glad you are posting this again this year and I will definitely join you. I think I'll just repost my post from last year since I had the SAME occurance this year. I went to three different stores looking for a few items for my kids' Halloween costumes, and the Halloween stuff was being taken down and the Christmas stuff was going up. At all three stores!!!!! It made me so mad. It is a week and a half to Halloween! It isn't even November! Cripes! I thought of your post right away.
Glad to be joining the cause again. :)

The Broad said...

By the end of September we in the UK start seeing Christmas ads everywhere :-(. When we live in Germany, however, nothing went up until Advent and everything came down 12th Night! This is what I try to do every year. Unfortunately, what passes for Thanksgiving here is Harvest Sunday and that is at the beginning of October! Christmas is now such a Herculean nightmare of Olympian activity that I have come to the conclusion that it should only be celebrated (and I use the word loosely) every 4 years!

Craig said...

Gosh, is it Thanksgiving-Comes-First time already? How time flies!

I've often done an Advent post in the past, in the (no doubt forlorn) hope of drawing a distinction between the Christian Feast of the Incarnation and its attendant time of preparation, and the consumerist feeding-frenzy that our culture associates with 'Christmas'. Which, I understand, isn't quite identical with your concerns, but I think the two are not unrelated. . .

Anyway, perhaps I'll do another Advent post this year (or perhaps I'll re-post an old one). . . (and with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, Advent is a full four weeks long. . .)

messymimi said...

Yep, i'm in again, and i'll try to get something up by tomorrow.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

Well, I was going to say you're late with this post... but I looked at last year and found you were even later. But in previous years you were at least a week earlier.
Man, you gotta get it together so we can have a coordinated effort like those folks occupying Wall Street... oh, wait... maybe they're not the best example.

Cricket said...

Hmmmm... should we do TCF before Hallowe'en? I wonder...

Buck said...

I'll be Sancho to your Don Quixote again.

Sancho: They say one madman makes a hundred and love makes a thousand.
Aldonza: What does that mean?
Sancho: I'm not sure.


Suldog said...

IT, Cricket, and anyone else thinking the same thing -

I was wondering if anyone would check to see when I'd done this in past years. I figured someone would. I knew it was later last year, and I always feel somewhat odd about asking folks to consider Christmas even earlier than the damned merchants do, but if I post this stuff AFTER it begins it has even less chance of success... :-(

PLEASE - Do your posts whenever you feel comfortable! I no more wish to step on Halloween than I wish for others to step on Thanksgiving!

I have the freedom, if you will, of being able to return to this subject a number of times before the holiday. It's somewhat expected since I start the thing each year. Therefore, I can express my thoughts at a leisurely pace, with no particular concern about the dates, and I promise you that I'll pick up on any of YOUR posts, and give them a link, no matter when they occur. I love them, and you, all.

Suldog said...

Buck (and all others) - Imagine it any way you wish, but I truly consider myself the sidekick to all of you. Without you and your help, my stuff means nothing.

Anonymous said...

Oh bummer! I wanted to be the first to say: Suldog, Halloween Comes First! Heh heh. A very worthy cause and sensible.

Chris said...

Not to be overly picky here, Jimbo, but it's October 19th.

Little early to be talking about Thanksgiving, no?


Joanna Jenkins said...

Thanks for doing this Suldog. I am totally "in". But I think it DOES make sense to post this before Halloween. Halloween gets A LOT of retail hype and then the retailers just zoom past Thanksgiving and straight into Christmas. I was even in a Halloween store last week with a Santa Costume in the window, so bring it on whenever people want to post.

I'll let you know when I do.

Cheers, jj

Cricket said...

Fair enough... I'll schedule my post for November 1th ;-)

And, re: Joanna above, which brings this to mind, I saw my first g--d--- Christmas merchandise in Macy's on October 7th! All "Happy Holidays" and wrapped gift displays... trees... the whole deal. F that!

And you know it was probably set up well before that. I just don't shop at Macy's too often. (sigh)

silly rabbit said...

Ha! I remember this obsession of yours. Its okay... some obsessions are good. I agree heartily. But you do know that Halloween comes before Thanksgiving right? =;]

Shrinky said...

Oh Blimey, is it that time of the year again? Well, I would if I could (help), but as you know, we don't do Thanksgiving over this side of the pond. Good luck, all the same!

John Going Gently said...

an enjoyable read.... I am with you every step of my middle aged way

Logophile said...

Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

Go, Suldog

will said...

I suppose this means you haven't done your Christmas shopping? A good Thanksgiving meal makes a decent pit stop between mall and Internet shopping. Gotta rest sometime, its a long season. You do know the good stuff gets sold early and, in the last weeks before Christmas only knock-offs and socks can be found.

Must cut this off ... There's and early sale down at the tire store ... gotta go.

Matt Conlon said...

I would gladly make some space on my blog for that, keep me posted.

I'll be writing my "Thanksgiving comes first" post shortly.

Sue said...

I'm impressed - good on you. (I've dropped in from Matt Conlon's blog) Not sure what our Aust. equivalent is, but I'll give it some thought. I detest the commercialism of Christmas and the early promotions which have already started :(

Joanna Jenkins said...

My post is up. Thank you for doing this.


Taradharma said...

Thanks to jj, and to you, my post is up as well. I saw the Nordstrom ad last week and it made me giddy with joy. They are a class act.

Thanks for continuing to roll that rock up the hill. Perhaps one day we shall prevail.

Kat said...

My post is up. :)

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

This is starting to catch on a little Mr. Sully. That BoN you got has created more of an audience.

Anonymous said...

If I was still posting on my blog, I would do a TCF entry for you. Not much help, am I?

Good for Nordstrom's. I've always liked them; unfortunately, there isn't a Nordstrom's in the whole d*** state of Iowa.

Hallmark is the worst offender around here. Their greed-fest starts in July when they haul out the Christmas ornaments. Every so often I write Hallmark to complain about getting covered in the glitter from their greeting cards when I shop in their store(which I try not to). Next time I'll add a plug for your TCF.

Shammickite said...

If I write a post as you suggest, I'll call it CANADIAN Thanksgiving Comes First... in fact, I think I already wrote it didn't I?
But I agree... too much emphasis an all these holidays in advance, especially Christmas. I tend to ignore it all, as much as I can.
I like Nordstrom's notice, but I haven't the faintest idea who Nordstrom is.

Clare Dunn said...

OK, Sul...
Since I am (relatively) new you your blog, this is the first opportunity for me to join the TCF Campaign. I AM IN!!!

I will, however, wait until after Spooky Day...

xoxoxo, cd

Hilary said...

Well as you know, I'm north of the border where T'giving happened earlier this month (on one of the warmest days of the season) but I care about what's important to you so I'll be happy to spread your word via the POTW on Wednesday.

Heidi Olivia Tan said...

I've put up mine, from my end of the world, spectrum, pond, alternate universe.

Sueann said...

Congrats Jim!! Two POTW awards!! Woot!
And you know I firmly believe that Thanksgiving comes first.
In fact, right now I am decorated for Halloween!!

Steve Gravano said...

I totally agree!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Hilary yet again this year, I am back to wave my flag of support. Hopefully I'll even find the time to write a post! But if not, you are at least being linked to in my "Thankful Thursday" post tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I did it! My post is up!

Eternal Lizdom said...

I've already been spouting off on Facebook about it- I won't decorate for Xmas until after my fave holiday- Thanksgiving. I might make December plans now- because our schedules like to book up. But no carols, no celebrating, no decorating.


LOVE the Mr. Rogers wisdom!

rayfamily said...

I have been looking forward to this! I posted this evening. Thanks for keeping the perspective.

Lisa said...


Bill Yates said...

Done and done!

Rick Gleason said...

Jeni, who commented here earlier, recommended I visit your blog after reading mine which is about the same subject. Dashing Through the Dough or Rethinking Christmas

I am soooo glad, in reading your blog and its comments, to see that I'm not the only one thinking the same thing. Let's give Thanksgiving it's due!

I very much enjoyed reading your post and hope you will visit mine. Birds of a feather!

Maybe there is still hope, after all...