I love the holidays. I can’t lie. But, are the holiday traditions I value falling prey to an insatiable retail hunger for the almighty dollar? It was the second week of October and I had swung by the Halloween section to check out the goodies. Workers were already stocking Christmas lights on the next aisle! It’s like they make a big deal out of Halloween, lots of money to be made there, then they “fast-food” you through Thanksgiving so they can push you right into Christmas spending.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), last year Americans spent a whopping $619.9 Billion dollars during the Christmas season. This year the NRF projects that amount will increase by a healthy 4.1 percent. Why? In my opinion, it is due to the now ever-prevalent Thanksgiving “Pre-Black-Friday” sales. They put highly sought after items, like high-end tablets and cell phones on sale for ridiculously low prices, knowing that even though some improvements have been noted in this economy, people can’t afford to ignore those offerings of as much as $100.00 savings. Then to yank those who are teetering on the edge over, they add things like a $30 dollar gift card to the pot.
I interviewed ten families, five had more than two children at home, three had two or less children, and two were grandparents with no children at home. I asked them how they felt about the Thanksgiving day “Door-Busters” and “one-hour-only” Black Friday sales. They all had the same response, if not in exact words. They all told me they felt like the “deals” were more like “steals,” as in, “stealing from families.” They felt that the holidays they used to look forward to were becoming a thing of the past. And all of them mentioned feeling bad for the workers who could not spend the day sharing turkey with loved ones and building the memories that are so often the strongest parts of this thing we call “life.” Those memories had always been the “go-to” when times got tough. They were that stored away little treasure of “joy” that pulled you out of the muck and mire of this fast-paced world in which we live.
There are other reasons that this whole retail strategy is unnerving, like the lines that began forming in front of Best Buy in Fort Myers Florida on November 11, more than two weeks before Thanksgiving. What are these folks waiting for? Super deals on I-Pads and Panasonic television sets. Annually, there are stories in the news about people getting punched, stabbed, and trampled all in the name of getting that special gift for the one we love.
Wow. What is wrong with this picture? Love and violently attacking and mauling people over gift purchases… that is hardly the Norman Rockwell Christmas.
This year, I am hoping that people might remember the traditional Christmas spirit, you know the whole “Peace On Earth” thing? Yeah, that. The best part of the holiday season, the real substance of the experience, which lasts long after your I-Pad technology becomes obsolete is the time you share with your family. Don’t let all the “shiny objects” steal the joy of Christmas.