Part I: Thanksgiving = Black Friday Eve?

Right or wrong, commercialization obliterating national holidays. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, November 26, 2012 – For decades now in numerous articles, columns, and comments, the Prudent Man and his alter egos have regularly charted the Decline of the West in both the social and economic marketplace. From attacks on our heritage and history; to the dumbing down and subsequent negative rewriting of our once heroic historical narrative; to the relentless attacks on our founding religious heritage, the secular left has sought to rewrite the record.

Slowly, surely, since roughly 1934, the positive story of America’s beneficial influence around the world has been transformed utterly. Both here and abroad, the U.S. and its citizens are increasingly regarded as an evil, corrupt culture emphasizing villainy and depravity over virtue. Chief among the alleged villains behind this moral and fiscal corruption: American business and businessmen.

Over the years, this relentless political and academic hackery and revisionism has been remarkably effective in altering our national story or “narrative,” as our latest elections just proved and as Marxist philosopher and theoretician Antonio Gramsci once predicted. This undermining of the culture has largely been the work of academics, politicians, and American Marxist theoreticians who hide behind the “progressive” label.

But in one area, at least, America’s business community itself has been ruthlessly undermining American pride and traditions in an unexpected way: through its remorseless transformation of national holidays into a single, homogenized sequence of mindless and faceless sales opportunities.

Not only have the bulk of our holidays been turned into frivolous sales opps. Even unofficial or relatively newly created non-national holidays ranging from the traditional Valentine’s Day to secular constructs like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Sweetest Day, Secretary’s Day (or is that Administrative Assistant’s Day?), et. al.—all of these are geared primarily towards the sales of cards, gifts, candy, dinners and lunches out, you name it.

Heated Black Friday a.m. scrum in Kentucky parking lot. What’s the reason for the season? (Credit: AP)

Nowhere is this commercial transformation more obvious than during those days immediately following Thanksgiving, that key commemorative holiday—mythic or otherwise—that celebrates this country’s dedication to the ideals of peace, love, sharing, and fellowship among those who freely choose or maintain legal residency in what was once the world’s beacon of democracy.

Sadly, however, Thanksgiving (and Christmas, too, for that matter) has in an odd way been shorn of its religious overtones not only by the doctrinaire Marxists and atheists of the left but by the sheer foolishness and rapaciousness of the American retail industry.

Thanksgiving still incites millions of Americans to fly, train, or drive to their ancestral home bases every year to celebrate the holiday properly by sharing an elaborate meal with extended family. And so it should, as it provides a natural incentive for annual family reunions of all shapes, sizes, and locales.

But increasingly, we find that this central American holiday is relegated toward the mere consumption of food, drink, TV football games and dreams of mass credit extravaganzas. As if to emphasize the point, it’s been summarily nicknamed “Turkey Day” by many in honor of the large, ungainly, genetically tailor-made birds that still grace most Thanksgiving tables, much to the chagrin of PETA brown shirts and their assorted ilk.

That said, “Turkey Day” is a holiday reanimation no doubt welcomed and surreptitiously pushed by turkey farms and meatpacking conglomerates, the bulk of whose annual profits depend on mass consumption of their main protein product during this time of the year.

Making matters far worse is that shopping phenomenon that’s come to be known as “Black Friday,” so named many years ago for what’s become the biggest retail shopping day of the year. Since most Americans try to make Thanksgiving a long-weekend holiday by taking Friday workdays off as well. Since they’re still primarily occupied digesting the previous day’s gigantic repast, one way to work it off while getting a jump on Christmas is to head for the malls, the better to get as much of that mandatory, guilt-induced Christmas shopping out of the way as possible before cautiously lean inventories of the most popular items run out.

As the Black Friday phenomenon became better known over the decades, more and more stores jumped on the post-Thanksgiving commercial bandwagon offering more and better incentives to get shoppers in the door early and increase sales numbers for the shopping year that was about to conclude.

Jamming the aisles at a Seattle Black Friday event. Happy Holidays! (AP)

Promos over the years have focused on variations of the familiar Midnight Madness sales. Other incentives to start the shopping frenzy early include stores opening outrageously early and offering “doorbuster” promotions to early shoppers camped outside their doors; outrageous, loss-leading price cuts on a limited quantity of popular items; one-day-only doorbuster sales; and whatever else those PR and sales imaginariums can come up with to part Christmas shoppers from their money as soon as possible—before some other store can empty shoppers’ wallets first.

The result can be some genuinely good deals for those who are willing to engage in this giant scrum. On the other hand, these Main Events can and often do end up in property damage and serious personal injury. Here’s a block of links we scooped up from yesterday’s invaluable Drudge Report that gives you some idea of the pain and misery that can result from this soul-crushing commercial nonsense:

‘Gang fight’ at Black Friday sale…
Man Punched in Face Pulls Gun On Line-Cutting Shopper…
Shots fired outside WALMART…
Shoppers smash through door at URBAN OUTFITTERS…
Customers run over in parking lot…
Woman busted after throwing merchandise…
Thousands storm VICTORIA’S SECRET…
VIDEO: Insane battle over phones…
Mayhem at Nebraska mall where 9 murdered in 2007…
Shoplifter tries to mace security guards…

Men Steal Boy’s Shopping Bag Outside BED, BATH & BEYOND…
Heckler calls them zombies…
Manhattan cop busted for shoplifting…
Shopper Robbed At Gunpoint Ouside BEST BUY…


Not a pretty picture.

As a result of this annual media induced shopping frenzy, we’ve watched as Thanksgiving itself has been gradually diminished in the public mind, becoming the unacknowledged kickoff for what’s now the main event: Black Friday.

Sure, Thanksgiving is still the day when families get together for a really big meal, generally followed by televised football and the rehashing of legacy family arguments. But as far as retail and the media are concerned, the holiday is just an excuse to start pitching, 24/7, the myriad shopping opportunities that will be made available shortly after that last football game or Charlie Brown special.

Probably the greatest evidence of all for this commercial transformation and diminution of Thanksgiving—as well as Christmas—is the once wondrous and now almost entirely disgusting annually televised phenomenon known as  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Next: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade market indicator.


Disclaimer: The author of this column maintains several active trading and investment portfolios and owns residential and investment real estate.

Any positions mentioned above describe this author’s own investment decisions and should not be construed as either buy or sell recommendations. The current market is highly treacherous and all investors travel at their own risk, so caution should be exercised at all times.

Illustrations, charts, commentary, and analysis are only the author’s view of current or historical market activity and don’t constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any security or contract. Views, indications, and analysis aren’t necessarily predictive of any future market or government action. Rather they indicate the author’s opinion as to a range of possibilities that may occur going forward.

References to other reporters, analysts, pundits, or commentators are illustrative only and do not necessarily represent an endorsement of such individuals’ points of view. If specific investment vehicles are mentioned in any article under this column heading, the author will always fully disclose any active or contemplated investments in said vehicles.


Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.

Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17


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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  



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