Sunday, November 20, 2011

Respect the Bird!

The Washington Post has an article today about a subject that's long been a pet peeve of mine: "Christmas creep." This phrase refers to the tendency of retailers to try and extend the Christmas shopping season as long as possible, often putting up their holiday greenery before Halloween. This sort of thing happens at other times of year as well (back-to-school sales start before school is even out, and fall decorations appear in mid-August when the mercury is at 92), and it always disturbs me to see just how much modern society has lost touch with the natural cycle of the seasons. However, Christmas creep is a particularly egregious example because it means that another perfectly good holiday, Thanksgiving, gets glossed over as if it didn't count. The grocery stores do take a bit of notice, but since food is pretty much the only thing people buy for Thanksgiving, all other retailers tend to ignore it and skip straight on to Christmas, with all its glitz and goodies. In fact, the very thing that makes Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays—the fact that it's all about family and isn't a massive purchase-fest—is what leads most businesses to give it short shrift.

Well, it appears I'm not the only one who feels this way. A campaign called "Respect the Bird" is now taking shape on Facebook, urging people to give Thanksgiving the attention it deserves—and specifically, not to let the holiday weekend be "gobbled up" by Black Friday shopping. And while some stores are trying to push Black Friday sales as early as possible, actually opening up their doors on Thanksgiving Day itself, at least one—Nordstrom—is pushing back, with a tasteful sign explaining that you won't see any holiday decorations there until November 27, because "we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time." (This pleases me so much that it almost makes me want to go out and buy something at Nordstrom just to support them in their stance—but unfortunately, my ecofrugal instincts still rebel at their prices.)

The video that accompanies the article makes the point that "Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we already have, while Christmas [at least the way it's often presented] is about going out and getting more." And especially in this economy, it seems like we could all do with a lot more of the former than the latter. (On a related note, those who object to having Christmas itself turned into a consumer-fest might like to take a look at the Simplify the Holidays campaign run by the Center for a New American Dream. The website offers a list of suggestions for ways to take the emphasis on "stuff" out of the winter holidays and refocus them on family, friendship, and, for the true believers, faith.)
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