To shop, or not to shop? Posted November 29, 2013

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There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over this year’s Thanksgiving Day beginning to the holiday shopping frenzy season.  We refrained from shopping, as we most often do on Black Friday also.  As we made our way home from our Thanksgiving family dinner, bellies full, kids drifting off to sleep in the back seat, smiles on all faces, it became apparent that Thanksgiving shopping is probably here to stay.

The mall parking lots were full.  The public has spoken.

So let’s look at this as if we were Pablo Picasso, from multiple vantage points, covering this eye or that.  Who does it really hurt to have stores open up Thanksgiving night?  The employees and the families of the employees, clearly yes.  But as one who waitressed her way through higher education, I would respond that from about 18 years old and on, I worked most holidays.  At first I rolled my eyes at families that would choose to go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving or Easter.  Note, however, that those eyes rolled condescendingly in a head that had never been asked to plan and pull together a meal for 20, including a large frozen bird with pieces of himself in bags inside areas of his corpse just waiting to be discovered.  Not to mention gravy (lumpy?), brining or bagging the bird, if there was even enough silverware for the crowd, and how to make sure kids stayed at the kids’ table.

Retail employees are gearing up for what is always the craziest time of the year for them, much like late March into April might be for accountants.  They may, at a certain point, decide to seek employment in another field where holiday hours are not required.  I know that even though I enjoyed the restaurant business, I enjoy having my nights and weekends to myself more.  I am better suited outside of that arena now.

What about the shoppers?  Who are these people getting up from the Thanksgiving Day table, probably leaving dirty dishes in the sink to clean later?  (And you know the cat will find those dishes first.)  They may be the same people that used to stand in lines at 2 am on Black Friday, waiting for the 4 am opening of doors.  Thanksgiving night sounds much preferable to me than getting up in the middle of the night and standing out in the cold!  Maybe these additional holiday shopping hours will serve to spread shoppers more evenly over this crazy and consumer-driven weekend, post-Thanksgiving.  That could make things easier for retail employees.

And the idea of getting up and moving after Thanksgiving dinner is one that crossed all of our minds yesterday.  How many hands rested on bellies that were just a little overfull?  (But you cannot walk away from the pumpkin cheesecake!  Or the homemade apple pie!  And you should have thought of that when you loaded the stuffing and gravy on your plate the first or second time at the buffet table!  Who was the idiot that brought so many great appetizers?!?!)  So shopping is exercise, post-overeating.  Not so bad, when you look at it like that.

Will this slight push earlier be the last one?  I don’t think retailers will be able to convince us to start holiday shopping any earlier.  Most of us refuse to think of the Christmas season until there is turkey on the table.  There is a clear mental dividing line between the two, right?

But the Albany FM radio station 98.3 has been playing holiday music non-stop for weeks already.  I switched the station.  I refused to listen.  Until today.

Obviously, unlike me, there were enough listeners who liked the format.

Next thing you know, our holiday shopping season will be starting in January, while we are still taking down the Christmas tree and cleaning up pine needles.

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