Smart Spending

The Forgotten Holiday: Thanksgiving

Halloween has come and gone, so true to form, retailers have shifted their focus, quite intensely, to Christmas. In fact, many “elves” started stocking shelves with Christmas merchandise before we even went trick-or-treating. It seems with each year the gap between these two holidays shortens.

Why? Halloween and Christmas are big money-makers.  That holiday in the middle known as Thanksgiving? Not so much. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), in 2011 consumers spent on average $72.31 per person on Halloween and a whopping $740.57 each on the December holidays, which include Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukah.  These numbers are expected to increase in 2012.

The amount spent on Thanksgiving, on the other hand, isn’t even calculated by the NRF. Instead, they measure the amount spent in the days following Thanksgiving on Black Friday and Cyber Monday—two retail experiences created by the market for the market featuring deep discounts that entice consumers to spend, spend, spend.

When you think about it, it’s no wonder the marketplace has deemed Thanksgiving an afterthought. It’s  all about being grateful for what we already have, material and non-material, whereas Christmas and Halloween focus on giving and getting more –whether its candy, decorations, costumes, toys, or greeting cards. Although Thanksgiving is a beloved American pastime, the traditional turkey dinner we serve just doesn’t match up dollar-wise to the retail powerhouses of Christmas and Halloween.

For proof that Turkey Day’s been forgotten, take a look around the next time you’re shopping at a Target or Walmart. Sure, you’ll be able to find some goods for your Thanksgiving table—perhaps one end-cap filled with autumn-themed paper plates or a cornucopia-inspired centerpiece. But you won’t be able to turn your head without seeing something Christmas related. Behold the larger-than-life Santa and reindeer suspended from the ceiling. Hum along to “Jingle Bells” as you stroll through the store. Resist your craving for Christmas cookies as a Gingerbread-scented candle wafts through the air. It’s no wonder we spend tons of money!

Yes, retailers have forgotten Thanksgiving in their rush to get to the holiday sales season underway. But that doesn’t mean we have to. Take time to give thanks, even if it’s for one day only; for we do not need money to county the blessings of family, friends, and nature’s bounty.  That comes from our heart and soul and can’t be touched by the retail marketplace.

Now who’s waking up with me at midnight to go shopping on Black Friday?