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Opinion column: ‘Tis supposedly the season for shopping

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2012

First things first, I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving and, hopefully, extended weekend.

As I sit here and write this article, I’ve heard all day that I’m apparently part of “Cyber Monday,” you know, just part of the traditional Thanksgiving experience, one meant for you and me to spend some of our hard-earned dollars.

I certainly can’t be the only one who thinks this is the latest catchphrase meant to further commercialize an event that continues to drift away from the oft-used “reason for the season.”

Now, I’m not a holiday shopping historian, but even in my short lifetime I’ve seen some disappointing trends. When I was younger, I remember Black Friday being a day where a few key ingredients came together to assist most businesses in moving those checkbooks back to the black.

These companies offered sales on a day most of the populus had off work, a group largely feeling the holiday spirit and one ready to start getting the Christmas shopping done early.

Some woke up early, sure, but the current crazes – including mob scenes and tramplings – were largely unheard of, or at least unpublicized.

It’s not so slowly morphed into something different. A few years ago, stores started pushing the envelope, opening earlier and earlier and offering customers much-sought-after “doorbusters.” Shoppers were encouraged to arrive the first hour or two in order to guarantee them the chance at significant savings.

This year, stores took it to the next level. Many opened on Thanksgiving Day. Think about that – stores opening their doors to herds of people on a federal, cherished holiday.

Then Saturday introduced the still-new-feeling, albeit worthwhile, Small Business Saturday, where consumers were asked to support independent local businesses.

And new this year was the aforementioned Cyber Monday, with some even going so far as to make it a type of “Cyber Shopping Week.”

The shopaholics among us have got to be going broke by now, at least if each opportunity was fully taken advantage of.

While I’m not one to tell people how to spend their holidays, and I’m definitely not going to say when or how to spend your money, but isn’t this over-commercialization going a little too far?

How long will it be before WalMart, Lowe’s or some of the other stores open their doors Thanksgiving morning? Will there even be a holiday? Will Aunt Rhonda, Uncle Ralph and Aunt Betty decide the turkey isn’t really worth missing the best deals for? I hope not.

I guess I’m kind of old-fashioned. For me, Thanksgiving has always been about great company, food and football, even far from home. Last Thursday, I thought about the fact I’m healthy and have a roof over my head and was happy for the friends and family I have here and elsewhere.

The holidays can be a very, very stressful time. Trying to pick out that perfect gift, wondering where all the money will come from and finding the time put some people into a full-on tizzy. And now, on top of all of that, one of those last chances to relax and reflect on the good in our lives is slowly being strangled out by the capitalism that goes against everything Thanksgiving originally stood for.

Suppporting the economy is great, but can’t we just stick to 5 a.m. on Black Friday? Would it kill Home Depot or others to wait till then?

For those of you who did get your shopping done on Cyber Monday, Black Friday or before, feel free to laugh at me when I start mine about Dec. 20, but I’d like to think not having to brave crowds, worry about the best deals or wake up at who knows what hour will keep me plenty refreshed for that tough day or two preceding Christmas.

Until then, I wish you non-procrastinators happy shopping and plentiful doorbusters.

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