What do you think a typical Thanksgiving celebration will look like 10 years from now?
Could it be that the same thing is happening to the Thanksgiving holiday as happened to Memorial Day and Labor Day? These were two holidays that used to represent something worth honoring in American history. But now, for most of us, their primary significance is that we get a three-day weekend and we can take advantage of start-of-summer and back-to-school sales at the mall.
I think Thanksgiving is a holiday in transition for a couple of reasons. Even if you’re like me and you don’t plan to be waiting at Target at 8p.m. when it opens on Thanksgiving, there’s no denying that the trend seems to be toward making Thanksgiving just another shopping day. As another example, Kmart will open at 6a.m. on Thanksgiving in case you want to cross a few people off your gift list while the turkey is in the oven.
It would be easy to see these stores as evil because now their employees have to work on a day that used to be dedicated to spending time with their family. But hey, times are tough and everybody is just trying to make a buck. These stores believe they are responding to consumers who want to get to the door-buster deals as early as they possibly can. And with Thanksgiving coming especially late in the calendar this year, the struggling economy, and double-digit growth in online sales on Thanksgiving Day, brick-and-mortar retailers are challenged with how to entice consumers to part with their money.
So whether you see it as good or bad, stores opening on Thanksgiving is now a fact of life. I’m sure we’ll never go back to the way it was – back when Thanksgiving was one of the few days of the year that you couldn’t have instant shopping gratification.
I think another reason that Thanksgiving celebrations will look different in 2023 is because the way people think about preparing Thanksgiving dinner is changing. More and more are opting to purchase a complete take-out Thanksgiving meal. And who can blame them? What working woman hasn’t momentarily considered buying Thanksgiving dinner in a kit? Not having to strategize about when to do the grocery shopping so you can avoid the crowds and still get a turkey for 59 cents a pound, would relieve a huge amount of stress.
But as more people buy a ready-made dinner for the convenience of it, there are going to be families where the children grow up not knowing how to prepare Thanksgiving dinner. I would bet that most women of my generation have vivid memories of watching – and by watching, learning – how to cook a turkey. (Even if my mother did constantly baste the turkey which has been shown to actually dry it out.)
Does this all lead to a Thanksgiving Day that doesn’t look more special than any other day? A day that becomes nothing more than a fast-food meal consumed quickly and without any ceremony so we can spend the day shopping for TVs at Best Buy?
It would be a shame if that happened.