So long, Thanksgiving. You were a special day for more than 400 years, but now it’s all over. Now Thanksgiving is mere prelude to the real celebration. We might as well rename it Black Thursday.
Macy’s, a source revealed to WWD last week, is reversing its traditional policy of staying closed on Thanksgiving after noticing with dismay that much of the crowd that gathered for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last year concluded the day by going on a collective shopping spree at rival department store Lord & Taylor, which opened its doors at 10 a.m. as an experiment and drank Macy’s milkshake.
Thanksgiving has always been a uniquely great American holiday, secular or reverent as you wish, a day set aside for family and gratitude.
Because it has never been linked to exchanging gifts, it has remained free of commercialism. We treat it with the seriousness it deserves. As a people we travel great distances for Thanksgiving, often at the cost of the enormous stress wrought by congestion, because we know how important it is to show family members we love them.
Even if every other holiday has turned into an excuse for buying — given how Presidents’ Day has turned out, today’s schoolchildren can be forgiven for thinking it’s an occasion to honor the presidents of Target and Best Buy — Thanksgiving itself was supposed to be fenced off.
It’s reassuring to spend an entire day in the same house with family members we may know well but hardly ever see. We’re supposed to be in this moment together, rolling our eyes at Uncle Earl’s strangely inappropriate jokes and marveling at Grandpa’s foot odors.
No outside force should break that family spell.
I will freely admit that Thanksgiving was never one of my favorite holidays. Maybe that has something to do with spending most of my childhood T-days sitting in the back seat of a car for 3 hours each way to my step-grandparent’s house. At least these days I can drink beer and there is something to watch on television besides parades and boring football games. (For the first time ever the Oakland Raiders will be playing on T-day this year.)
Thanksgiving became a “tradition” back when divorce was rare and it was not uncommon for extended families to live together or in close proximity to each other. Nowadays divorce is common and so are far-flung relatives. My kids are spread over three states (none of them connecting) and I also have close relatives in San Diego, Oklahoma and Arizona. I don’t need a special holiday to spend time with my relatives here in town.
Times change. We can rail against it, or we can make our peace with it. Here’s the cold, hard truth – if nobody went shopping on T-day, none of the stores would be open. They are staying open to meet consumer demands.
So don’t blame Macy’s. Blame us. Or better yet, don’t blame anybody.
And be thankful every day.