Today there is no school and I slept in. It felt good on this gray, cold, windy day. My food shopping is done, but I'm sure that I forget an ingredient and will have to run out to get something. We stay home for Thanksgiving. My mom and my two brothers will make the trip down to us from New York tomorrow morning so there will only be nine of us and that is fine with me. As I was pulling myself together this morning, I was listening to the radio. In between songs, the DJ said that 62% of polled people are against the stores being open on Thanksgiving. Then a commercial came on for one of these stores that will be open on Thanksgiving and a sing songy commercially voice said at the end, "Black Friday starts 8pm Thursday!" Black Friday starts on Thursday! You notice they didn't say Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving has turned into just another day and this has really shook me to the core.
This bothers me greatly! I have been thinking about this ever since I heard Macy's announced that they will be open on Thanksgiving. Macy's…the store that is in Miracle on 34th Street. The store that puts the Christmas back in Christmas, the store that sends it's customers to other stores if they don't have what they want. The store that was fighting commercialism. Yes, I know, it's just a movie and there was no Mr. Macy's in 1947. He died back in 1877. But being originally from New York, I grew up watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I remember my father bringing me and my brother one year into the city to see it in person. A few years later, a neighbor moved in next door and his office was in the city on the parade route. His office would have a Parade Party and we would go and sit on the ledge by the windows, faces pressed up to the glass, watching the giant balloons pass by at eye level…just like Susan in the beginning of Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street.
Last year, I found these two great books that I read to Molly's class. Balloons Over Broadway, is a nonfiction book about the puppeteer that created the balloons for the parade. The second one, is a historical fiction book, Milly and the Macy*s Parade. Milly is fictitious, but the book explains how the parade came to be. Many of the workers in 1924 were immigrants, immigrants that had to adjust to their new lives in America but still missing their traditions and holiday celebrations from their home countries. Milly sees her papa and his coworkers sad and homesick and Milly runs to Mr. Macy's office to talk to him (the fictitious part, Mr. Macy's died in 1877 and there was no Milly). But as Milly is about to enter Mr. Macy's office, she overhears a meeting that he is having.
Inside his office, Mr. Macy's was pacing back and forth. "Why it's almost Thanksgiving, and Christmas is right around the corner," he grumbled. "But the salesclerks are all frowning when they should be festive. It's depressing the customers!"
Mr. Macy's assistant, Mr. Snidely, snickered. "Maybe we should fire them."
Fire them? Fire Papa and his friends?
"No!" Milly cried. "You can't fire them!"
"What?" thundered Mr. Macy. "Who said that?"
Milly stepped forward. "Um. . . I did sir. I didn't mean to be rude. It's just that, I don't think firing people will make them any more festive."
EXACTLY Milly!!! Then the parade came to be, a mixture of different cultures from the "old" country coming together in their "new" country. People had the day off to celebrate, to be thankful, to count their blessings.
Thanksgiving to me has officially been swallowed up by the commercialism of Christmas. A holiday that was a day set aside to be thankful for the things we have has now been turned into a day to think about all the things we don't. This has saddened my heart. I never shopped on Black Friday. There was never anything I needed to have so badly that I was willing to get up at 4am to be at a store's door with thousands of other shoppers or to leave my house on Thanksgiving night to shop for midnight madness. But that is just personal preference. Some people enjoy going out on that day, and that's okay.
But to me, there was something sacred about having one day, just one, in our hectic lives set aside to just be thankful. I will continue to be with my family and have family time and enjoy a day of rest in the middle of our crazy scheduled lives. My Thanksgiving will not change. But there was a comforting feeling that everyone in our country was doing the same thing with there families as well, no matter where they live in the country, no matter what their heritage, we were all thankful. That comforting feeling is gone. 62% of peopled polled may be against the stores being open, but that leaves 38% of the people lining up at the doors to buy that sweater that they just can't live without…sigh.