Thanksgiving is its Own Holiday, not Just a Blip on Santa’s Radar – Frugal Confessions

Thanksgiving is its Own Holiday, not Just a Blip on Santa’s Radar

One of those Facebook pops of wisdom (via showed up on my wall the other day. Normally these are quirky and satirical observations that most of us can relate to, but this one spoke to me in a different way.

It stated, “Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.”

The crazy consumerism that tends to wrap itself around Christmas season is overpowering not only the magical and beautiful parts of the season, but now it is overpowering Thanksgiving and even Halloween. Stores and manufacturers have had to deal with a significant decline in sales over the last several years due to the recession, and in an effort to curtail the losses, they are rolling out the Christmas shopping season earlier and earlier. This year ribbons and bows showed up in commercials as far back as late September, Christmas music sporadically plugged up the airwaves since early November, and holiday displays sat side-by-side with 75%-off Halloween products.

It’s sickening.

And the day that usually sounds the sirens for the Christmas season to begin—Black Friday—has now bled into Thanksgiving Day as stores tested our tolerance three years ago by opening on midnight on Thanksgiving Day. This must have been successful, as two years ago several stores were advertising insanely great deals beginning on Thanksgiving evening, as in 8:00 p.m. on turkey night.

Santa Radar

There are a growing number of people who are fed up with this over-commercialization of the holidays. I have shopped once on Black Friday back in college with my mother, and admittedly had a great time. But now that we might start seeing Santa and elf costumes (the jolly kind, not the kind that have come back from the dead) during Halloween, I feel the need to reclaim the season for what it actually is and for what it means to me. Here are some ways we can all do this:

Share What We are Thankful For

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. A nice tradition is to take a few minutes to go around the table or the room and have each person share something they are thankful for. These could also be written down on paper, put into a container, and read one-by-one at a gathering.

Teach the Next Generation How to Cook a Family Dish

There may not always be time to cook with children and teenagers during the work week, so why not carve out some time on the one day a year that is centered on food and family. While you are making the meal, choose a family recipe or any recipe and teach it to the next generation. If you have time, photocopy or handwrite the recipe and take this opportunity to pass it on.

Make a Wish

If you like the tradition of breaking the wishbone to see who gets the “lucky break”, perhaps alternate year to year of who gets to play the game.

Play a Game Together

For many of us, Thanksgiving is one of the few opportunities per year that a lot of our family is under the same roof. We might as well take advantage of it! Why not play an indoor or an outdoor game? With a yard and enough players, someone can bring a football to start a casual game. Later at night when everyone is stuffed and feeling good, starting a board game can be a lot of fun. My favorites are Monopoly, Uno, and Jenga.

Watch Something Together

The Macy’s Day Parade and football games are popular things to watch together throughout the day. My own personal tradition is to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation sometime during Thanksgiving weekend.

Gather for a Great Leftover Meal/Snack

The main cook may not wish to cook again for the rest of the day, or the next several days for that matter. But it could be fun to have someone else assemble some leftovers to gather for a second, more casual meal or snack. These could be turkey sandwiches (try ‘The Moistmaker’ that Monica makes Ross on the television series Friends or cranberry chipotle turkey sliders), turkey chili, turkey enchiladas…or just seconds!

I would love to hear about your personal traditions that make this holiday special and grounded in what means the most to you. Let’s share with everyone so we can help keep these sentiments alive!

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15 comments… add one

  • I could not agree with you more. I was just telling my husband this last night. I’ve already seen people in my neighborhood with Christmas trees up and I’m like what happened to Thanksgiving? No one decorates for Thanksgiving anymore – it goes right from Halloween to Christmas. Thanksgiving is a great holiday (it’s actually my favorite) so it kind of bums me out when people just skip right over it. Bravo for this post!
    Rebecca recently posted..How to stretch your budget this holiday season

  • And the last straw: keeping the stores open on Thanksgiving. Like they don’t give a damn about their employees.

    What next, no Christmas for them as well?
    Moneycone recently posted..How To Invest When You Have Very Little To Invest

  • Here’s the thing though — something like supply and demand or whatever. If stores were doing these dumb sales and early christmas things, and everyone rolled their eyes and were annoyed and upset that it takes away from the reason for the season, then it wouldn’t work because no one woudl buy anything and the stores would stop doing all these sales and stuff. Right? But they keep rolling out earlier and having more weirdo sales and all that BS because people are buying into it! So I’d like to blame the stores and the media for making Americans more shallow and not properly being thankful, but maybe the media is just reflecting our values back at ourselves?
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Old Buildings That Go Untouched

    • FruGal

      Great points. I think I read somewhere that sales went up 22% last year due to stores opening on Thanksgiving at midnight.

      I hope more people than not choose to stay at home/with family on Thanksgiving day.

  • Thank you Rebecca! It’s nice to know others feel the same way.

    Personally I used to love drying out gourds from Halloween and having them as part of the Thanksgiving centerpiece (though I probably drove my parents nuts with rattling the seeds inside; I was a drummer for 8 years so could not help myself:)).
    Amanda L Grossman recently posted..Maslow’s Hierarchy of Frugal Motivation: Being Frugal is more than just about Saving Money

  • I’ve done some shopping already, in fact from a budget standpoint, my wife and I have probably spent over 50% of our budget so far, but there’s still a lot to do, and we take time out to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s football, family, and food, plus watching the parade in the morning and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at night :)
    Money Beagle recently posted..What To Do When Your Interviewer Checks Out

    • FruGal

      Another fellow National Lampooner! I love it!

  • So true! I cannot believe that people are already camping out already – seriously? Is it worth giving up Thanksgiving dinner and time with family to save on a ___ (fill in the blank with something most likely electroni that is probably not the first one for the home)? It is not. I recently posted about shopping on Black Friday with my mom too, you are right it used to be fun! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Amanda!
    Raquel recently posted..Organizing Food Spices

  • Well said. I was horrified to see that Black Friday is bleeding into Thanksgiving this year and wish there was more we all as consumers could do to stop it. I’ve been away from my hometown for the past few years and have only been able to return for the holiday sporadically (thanks to high airfares on that and Christmas). This year my fiance and I can’t make it back in time so we’re going to try out cooking our own dinner and inviting any other friends who can’t make it home this year. Should be interesting and fun!
    Shannon-ReadyForZero recently posted..Weekly Shout Outs: Thanksgiving Edition

  • Michelle

    I wanted to decorate for xmas this past weekend, but not because I want to skip Thanksgiving but because I am due with our first child on the 24th of November and I am trying to get all of my xmas shopping and decorating done before our son blesses us with his appearance. I feel like if I don’t do it now I will be decorated with fall stuff until February.

  • Hi Michelle!

    That’s a great reason to get the holidays started early. Good luck with everything!!
    Amanda L Grossman recently posted..Thanksgiving is its Own Holiday, not Just a Blip on Santa’s Radar

  • Last week when most of the country was immersed in frigid temperatures and there was early snow and all that, I lamented that maybe the early winter comes from all the people that insist on bringing Christmas into the limelight earlier and earlier.

    Be careful what you wish for! :)

    • Amanda

      Brrrrr! We even had the cold down here in Houston–which gave us a great excuse to get our firewood for the winter and enjoy a nice fire:).

  • Debbie

    Very well stated. Thanksgiving will always be it’s own special holiday in our home.

    • Amanda

      Thank you, Debbie! I hope you and yours have a lovely holiday:).

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