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Jeffery Kurz

Taking the day off from shopping

I tend to get defensive about Thanksgiving, because it’s my favorite holiday. I figure today, the day after the holiday, ought to be the on your mark, get set, go! day for holiday shopping. Even though there’s fewer days to shop this year than typical there’s still plenty of time.

I try not to get too bent out of shape when I see Christmas decorations go up before Thanksgiving Day. There’s no stopping it. But I was wondering if I ever got cranky about the incursion of holiday shopping on Thanksgiving, so I did a little research, and lo and behold, I got plenty cranky about it in 2005.

Here’s what I had to say:

“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, largely because it doesn’t involve costumes or presents or religious beliefs (at least not necessarily) and you don’t have to like football to have a good time, it just helps. All it’s about is spending time with people you care about, enjoying it and being grateful for the opportunity. And it’s all ours, uniquely American. What a great holiday! But every year the Christmas season starts a little earlier and for a long time now it’s encroached into pre-Thanksgiving territory. I stubbornly continue to wish there were some way to push it back to where it belongs.”

You can see I haven’t changed my mind about this, but nearly a decade later it seems ever more a losing battle. Retailers have the right to do what they think best, and consumers have a choice — and I suppose you can look at consumerism as being something as American as celebrating Thanksgiving.

I have to say I found encouraging a University of Connecticut poll, the results of which were released earlier this week, that found plenty of people not enthusiastic about shopping on Thanksgiving, even though more places are open and Black Friday continues to encroach into Thursday. The poll found that 9 out of 10 Americans didn’t plan on spending the holiday shopping. Nearly 50 percent disapproved of having stores open for business on Thanksgiving.

There are places where it’s a done deal, or where , to put it more precisely, it’s no deal. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine, according to a recent Associated Press story, are states where big stores are barred from opening on the holiday. This is due to the “blue laws” that are at least familiar to residents of Connecticut.

You can say it’s not really fair, particularly these days when online shopping is increasingly popular, and you can shop online any time you please. But that also means you can exercise your own restraint, if you like, and keep the Thanksgiving holiday unique by holding off on that mouse click purchase.

It’s all about individual choice, which ought to remain as American a staple as apple pie. But what’s a concern about big box stores opening on the holiday is that it takes that choice away from too many, from employees who ought to have the opportunity of spending the holiday with their friends and families. It’s a shame that choice gets taken away.

In any case, Thanksgiving Day is now behind us, and here’s hoping it went precisely the way you wanted it to go.

jkurz@record-journal.com (203) 317-2213



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