Stores sell merchandize. Their goal is to get a profit. And almost anything can be merchandized (and is). The two holidays that engulf Thanksgiving are two of the most merchandized holidays in existence.
One of these holidays is Halloween, a holiday centered around costume parties, candy and a social permission to explore your darker side with scary movies. Decorations of pumpkins, ghosts, haunted houses, costumes for the latest movie, bags of candy. What's left not to merchandize?
On the other end we have Christmas. The most merchandized holiday of the year. It all started with the magi and we've been gift giving ever since. This is the one time of year that stores can literally merchandize everything because absolutely everything is up for grabs. On top of the compulsion to find that perfect gift for every individual you know, there are also Christmas trees, wreaths, bulbs, lights, stockings, plastic Santas and snow men to put in your front yard because you're too lazy or there's not enough snow to make a real one (Curse you, global warming!!).
Anyway, it makes perfect business sense that stores would be getting people thinking about these two holidays almost as soon as possible. While strolling through WalMart in September for toothpaste you see the bright orange boxes and Halloween masks hanging on the wall and think, "Wow, it's almost Halloween. That's a really good price on bags of KitKats. I should grab two."
Then you eat them both before Halloween and have to stop and get more the night before all those trick-or-treaters show up at your door.
Not to mention you have the post-holiday 50% off sale and while walking the aisles on your way to getting toilet paper you see the adorable raven and bat lantern that was $4. You take it home for $2 feeling like you've gotten a good deal even though somewhere in your head you known that WalMart probably got it in bulk for 50 cents a lantern. (True Story.. That lantern is sitting on my kitchen counter and looking cute while doing it, too.)
And not only can you pick up those 50% off Halloween items, but down the aisle you can also get your pick of Christmas lights and tree toppers in one stop because at 12:00 am on November 1, the midnight staff of your local WalMart was rolling out their Christmas stock and rearranging the store to house it all.
But what about Thanksgiving? Why is it overlooked?
Because you can't merchandize thankfulness. It's one of the very few ideas that actually challenges people not to spend but rather to sit back and appreciate what one has.
Yeah, you might see the occasional cartoon cut out pilgrim and talking turkey gag gift and but for the elegant, fall colored tablecloths and loads of frozen turkeys, there's nothing to sell to make someone feel like they are in the Thanksgiving spirit. You don't have to buy the perfect costume or the biggest, shiniest tree. You don't have to make your house look the ghoulishist on the block or the brightest. There's no candy to give out and no picky aunt to satisfy. All there is to eat, watch football and appreciate what you already have.
I, for one, am okay with Thanksgiving being cast aside by the merchandizing kings. Why? Because it should be left alone. Yes, I wish there were more social reminders of its approaching and more time spent celebrating and appreciating it and maybe at least a week after Halloween before we start seeing Christmas decorations out of respect. I'd love to walk into a store and just see a banner that said, "Be Thankful." But, that wouldn't encourage people to spend, would it, so what's the point?
So, we'll just have to stop relying on (or getting angry at) stores for dictating our holidays.
We can celebrate Thanksgiving far better than they can anyway and we can do it without spending a dime.