The race for Christ­mas dol­lars be­gins be­fore Thanks­giv­ing ends

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - CHRIS COLLETT Chris Collett is a life­long res­i­dent of Can­ton.

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.

Collett

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