The race for Christmas dollars begins before Thanksgiving ends
Although I’ve already written a Thanksgiving column, I happen to be writing this one on Thanksgiving Day. While sitting in the quiet of home, my mind reflects on the past, present and future. A little later, there will be a dinner at Mama’s. Until then, I will enjoy the time alone.
There is a big difference in being alone and being lonely. Some people get that. Others don’t. For me, as long as Lindsey and Mama are healthy and happy, my life is filled with peace and thankfulness. While some may think an empty home is sad, I’m just glad to have a roof over my head protecting me from the elements.
This time of year is the busiest for retailers big and small. After Thanksgiving signals the beginning of the Christmas holidays. People get excited and ready to shop. With trees decorated in many homes, presents will start filling the space under the trees.
When I was a kid in small town Canton, this time of year was huge for the retail stores on Main Street. There were no malls or big box stores. There was only the mostly family-owned businesses in town. You could find pretty much anything you needed in those stores. They provided Christmas present options for our community for a long time. If you’ve ever known the excitement of walking through the toy department at Kessler’s, you get where I’m coming from.
Another amazing time was the arrival of Santa on the day after Thanksgiving. I can remember him arriving in a helicopter and on a firetruck. He was always ready to take his place in the little white house that stood by Jones’ Department Store. Kids would line up to make their wishes known. More than not, any requests made for gifts could be found somewhere on Main Street. I really can’t relay to you what an exciting time this was. However, in those days, it was the most wonderful time of the year.
For those very few items that couldn’t be found in town, there was always the Sears and Roebuck and J.C. Penney Christmas catalogs. Kids today will never understand the excitement of the arrival of these catalogs. It was a huge deal. By the time Christmas actually arrived, both catalogs were frayed. Kids would look through them hundreds of times before Santa arrived. The internet has long since replaced those items. But, it’s not the same.
The store owners in town wanted to make a living just like any retailer ever has. There is no doubt they looked for Christmas shopping to take them through some slower months following the holidays. It was how they fed their families.
Regardless of this, not one of these stores would have dreamed of opening on Thanksgiving. They would wait until the Friday after to start doing business. There was something more important to those store owners than money. It was a period when time with family took precedent over making a dollar. As someone who has been in this community since birth, I am relatively sure that if one of these stores had opened on Thanksgiving Day, they would have been looked down upon. It would have cost them business in the long run, if not their entire business.
Oh, how times have changed. I’m not sure how we got to the place we are today. Yet, we are here. Thanksgiving still exists. We still celebrate it. However, we aren’t going to let the traditions of the past interfere with retail. Stores are opening today to do everything they can to get a head start on Christmas dollars. The importance put on the economy and making a dollar has overtaken the importance of the holiday. And why do these stores open on Thanksgiving rather than waiting until the day after? Because they will be full with people lining up for a bargain.
Hey, I’m not even judging it or saying it’s wrong. I am only trying to bring memories to you of a time when our priorities were in a different place. And, it doesn’t have to be Canton. Your memories can be from any small town in our country. Regardless of what little town you grew up in, it would not shock me if you can relate to how our quiet little town once was.
Priorities often change. Yet, no amount of money can buy the happiness of those simple times. Our memories remain and are priceless.