In a year with precious little good news, the calendar brings great news for merchants and shoppers in America: an early Thanksgiving – Nov. 22.
The holiday always falls on the fourth Thursday of November, as proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln and ratified into permanence by Congress in 1941.
Some years it can fall as late as Nov. 28, leaving stores worrying about breaking even by Dec. 25.
For those vowing to restrict conspicuous consumption (everybody) but failing to do so (also everybody), our wallets are endangered.
Between Black Friday and Santa’s chimney night, there are 32 shopping days. We can pace ourselves. Ha!
Sweet reason and logic are not terms often associated with shopping, especially for a family. The adrenaline rush of competitive shopping is in full swing.
There is nothing wrong with a festive gift-giving season in the middle of winter, which gives us a glow exactly when the nights are longest, thereby staving off a national bout of Seasonal Affection Disorder, especially in these dysfunctional times.
However, just try to recall what you gave or received two, three or five years ago. Can’t remember? Neither can the recipient.
I remember eons ago searching for the Holy Grail of the Cabbage Patch doll for my little hopeful daughter. But they seemed to have evaporated from stores overnight. A friend found one in another city and shipped it. That 8-year-old, who is now herself a mother to a second-grader, has no recollection of that doll.
That’s the peace you can give yourself. It really doesn’t matter all that much what you give. Nobody remembers. It’s the pleasure of the hunt and the joy of having people to give to.
Lately, I’ve tried to go the experiential route with grandchildren when I have the good fortune to have them all together, an increasing rarity. Hiring an art teacher to do projects with the preschoolers, making jewelry at a local bead store were some of my event Christmas gifts.
Still, there’s some mystique about having an alluring, beautifully wrapped gift under a tree or in a stocking. So I’ll be joining the throngs online and in the streets to search for the perfect stocking stuffers and probably feeling a bit glum when the January MasterCard bill arrives.
Somehow, when it’s the people you care most about in the world, and it only happens once a year, it’s worth it.
Len Bourland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.