Thursday, November 18, 2004

What's That Holiday Called? Thinksgiving? Thanksliving? Something Like That ...

It's that time of year again: professors go project happy, alcohol consumption goes up, and toy ads hit an all-time high. That's right, it's the holidays, folks.

I'm not usually one to be a Scrooge. By all accounts, I have a tendency to be annoyingly chirpy around this time. However, I've now hit my junior year of college and I'm resisting going on a homicidal rampage. Well, not really, but that doesn't mean I'm not prone to daydreaming about a rampage while I'm taking one of a half-dozen tests.

My life is, as always, a little hinky. Always something new and different to be thinking about. Now, for instance, I'm distracted by one person (grr) and trying to head off some serious writer's block so I can get to work on one of three different papers. It hurts, and I'm tired.

But back to the holidays. I got an email from my sister yesterday that suggested I mention Thanksgiving. Why? Because nobody else does. That is, nobody in advertising.

You'd think Thanksgiving would be a great time for any family-oriented, uber-patriotic company to go haywire. Let's think about this: it's a holiday entirely about family togetherness, food, and football, and it originated right here, in the USA. Companies everywhere could go nuts with the possibilities there, but only those in food seem to catch on.

Instead, the biggest ploy with Thanksgiving? The sales for the day after. Why? So you can start your Christmas shopping at THEIR store. It doesn't matter that they've been decorating since the day after Halloween, and their sales have all been themed in respect to the month of December. It doesn't matter that there' s one more major holiday in there (by "major" I mean "every school kid gets a four-day weekend"). It doesn't matter that most moms are busy trying to figure out where the in-laws are going to sleep when they show up Wednesday night (and darn it, when do they plan on being in town?) and they'd rather not think about shopping for Christmas until they've exhausted their recipes for leftover turkey.

None of this matters. There's a simple truth here -- people don't buy things for each other for Thanksgiving. Does your family buy presents to exchange after the turkey's sliced? Probably not. (If so, would you consider adopting me?) There's no real profit for any major department store when it comes to Thanksgiving. It's not worth their effort (and advertising dollars) to remind everybody that, hey, there's this other holiday in here. Your kids will be home, Mom's helping cook, and then there's bonding time around the TV.

Maybe it's better this way. Maybe the sanctity of Thanksgiving will be better preserved if mainstream pop culture doesn't run away with it and twist it into another over-commercialized, formerly meaningful holiday. (Don't even get me started on Valentine's Day.)

For that matter, leave Thanksgiving alone. Just don't forget about it, okay?

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

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