Thanksgiving – The Turkey Of Commercialism?

Has Thanksgiving become just another excuse for retailers to make a dollar at the expense of consumers? My argument is ‘no.' In my opinion Thanksgiving, like any other holiday, is what you make of it. Of course, nowadays finding a store with closed doors on a holiday would be a shocker. Retailers are obviously going to take advantage of mass consumption because the demand is there. They’re not foolish — money talks. I suggest that the issue is more the consumer than anything else; our common sense and priorities have been hijacked by “wants” and the desire to buy which leads to unnecessary stress and massive debt. Some people would rather get a head start on “Black Friday” by spending hours in line for a bargain than spend quality time with their family.

Photo Courtesy of Lululemon Athletica

The part I find the most tragic about Thanksgiving (and any other celebrated holiday) is the pressure that those less fortunate face. Love and family time should not be a measure of the gifts given/ received and amount of food placed on the table. It’s very “back-to-basics” to say, but I think that everyone one of us knows that the holidays are about time spent and remarkable moments shared with those closest to our hearts — or, for that matter, just being in the presence of great company. People can criticize the commercialism of the holidays all they want, but at the end of the day we are all consumers who have a choice and accountability when it comes to our own spending behaviour.
Every year, I spend the holidays in Montreal with family. Family, of course, has a very broad definition for us and can include friends and their parents, boyfriends, neighbours — everyone and anyone who stops by is always welcomed with open arms. My family hosts a gift exchange each year with a $40 limit per gift given, but the laughs, fun and warmth experienced during this time are priceless.

Photo courtesy of TheDarkThing

One of our most celebrated holidays as a family is Valentine’s Day. Ironically, it’s one of the MOST commercialized days of the year, but we don’t see it this way. Valentine’s Day for us is a massive celebration of love and this has been our tradition for as long as I can remember. My mom decorates the house inside and out; last year she even took the time to pick up matching red and black ties with hearts on them for everyone to wear. Our Valentine’s Day celebration always consists of a fondue dinner with 20+ people, lots of wine and a chocolate fondue for dessert; not to mention hundreds of hilarious moments captured on camera, laughs enough to give you a set of abs along with unforgettable memories. No gifts, no flowers (okay, minus the ones that my dad buys us), no stress, no pressure and certainly no time spent waiting in line at a restaurant trying to get a table.

Photo courtesy of Jonas N

Thanksgiving can be a great time if you want to make it such. If you are a parent, why not exchange money spent for memories created with your children? Create your own traditions as my mom did with Valentine’s Day. Take out the expensive “wants” and start being sensible. The holidays shouldn’t be the time of year where you overcompensate; my biggest pet peeve is with people who become these extremely nice, caring individuals who you can tell are exhausting themselves. Be giving and caring all year round instead (please).

Finally, I’d like to state that I don’t for a second remember what I got last Christmas - or any Christmas - for that matter (Actually, one year my parents gave me a calculator which made me super angry at the time. They now laugh about it.), but I’ll never forget the year that my dad took us all on an eight hour road trip to Canmore, Alberta for the holidays. Even though we were young, and a road trip was a deal my dad negotiated with us as a replacement for unnecessary gifts, the memory of it all still holds a place in my heart and will never leave me.