Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus…a month too early. On Nov. 1, a friend and I indulged in our daily 9 a.m. Starbucks routine. To my surprise, I found that Starbucks was advertising the return of seasonal drinks and a new reusable cup that read “JOY” in large red letters across the front.
Within the next few days, I noticed a similar pattern with multiple things I bought. Coca-Cola bottles want us to “Share a Coke with Elves” or “Under the Mistletoe.” Dunkin Donuts got festive with mini Christmas trees decorating their donut boxes. The list of the amount of companies who turned fall into winter overnight is endless and I cannot help but feel enraged.
My family, like many families, has the tradition of ripping down fall décor in our home and getting to work on the Christmas tree around Dec. 1. American consumerism, however, has the tradition of hanging up the garland while they are still scarfing down mini trick-or-treating candy bars.
November has become nothing more than a bridge from October to December that we try to cross as fast as we can, while grabbing as many tree ornaments as sales allow along the way. But, what is lost in this holiday whirlwind is one of, if not the most, significant holiday on our calendar–Thanksgiving.
I find tremendous irony and symbolism in the fact that a country ran by big business and commercialism forgets to acknowledge the one day of the year designed for gratefulness.
Thanksgiving is a day decorated with only conversation and a meal. There is no glitz, there is no glam and there are no green and red finely wrapped gifts under a tree. It is a day of communion that can only be celebrated by taking a time-out from the rush of life to give thanks to what has brought us here.
There is no money in Thanksgiving for businesses.
Besides having a sale on pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes, there’s not much strip malls and department stores can squeeze out of its celebration. But, rather than embracing that and celebrating the simplicity and authenticity of the day, American businesses pretends it doesn’t exist.
I would even argue, with the Black Friday hours being pushed to start at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, businesses is trying to make the holiday completely obsolete. Like the sheep consumers have become, we turn our turkey and ham into lunch instead of dinner in order to be 77th in line outside of Target’s doors, following retail’s lead.
Thanksgiving is a day that refuses to be bought or sold. It is a holiday that exists for the graciousness of hearts and thankfulness of minds, not credit card swipes. Yet, as mass consumers, we allow producers to sweep it under the rug.
How symbolic it is, and how shameful it has become, that a country fueled by transactions and industry seems to annually forget the simple 24 hours designated per year to show a little gratitude.