Monday, November 24, 2014

What a Difference 50 Years Makes


This is not my family.  But I think our family Thanksgiving Dinner in 1964 would have looked similar to this one.  All adults seated at one table, dressed nicely for the day with men in ties.  At our dinners, the children were seated at another table.  Our family lived by the motto that "Children Should Be Scene and Not Heard".  How sad.

After dinner, the women cleared the table and took care of the clean up.  The men sat together talking.  My family was not big on football.  The Chicago Cubs were our sports staple and of course back then the world series was played at the beginning of September. Later the adults would gather at the table and play cards or Bunco.  I remember how happy I was when I was about 12 and was allowed to play Bunco.  I still love that game, though no one at my house will play with me now.

There was no shopping done on Thanksgiving.  Stores were not even open...you may have found a little local grocery store open for just a few hours in the morning, but it would be difficult even in the small town I where I was raised.

I guess there was a lot of shopping done on the day after Thanksgiving, but I honestly don't remember it.  My mother was a stay at home mother who did not drive.  Really!  We didn't even own a car! We walked every where or rode the bus. (Year later when I met Terry he thought I was crazy to enjoy walking.  He actually would drive the car if we visited a neighbor down the street).  Anyway, I'm sure we went Christmas shopping together.  A ride on the bus to downtown.  There were no malls.  (Heck, we didn't get a McDonald's until I was in high school.)  We ALWAYS stopped at Walgreen's drug store.  The had a cafe area and I remember that my mother always bought a breaded pork cutlet child's dinner for me.  OR we stopped at the fountain area in the Woolworth's Dime Store for a sandwich..a BLT club.  Then we either rode the bus home or maybe we went to an afternoon matinee at the theatre.  Back then you could see a movie for .25 and watch it over and over all day if you wanted to.  When I got older, I saw all the Elvis and Beach Blanket movies there.  I also remember seeing Exodus at that show.

So moving on, somewhere in history Black Friday became a frenzy.  I admit to getting out into the mix when we were younger.  The lure of the deal was too hard to resist when money was short.  We were grateful for the sales to be able to stretch our dollars.  In the past few years there has been nothing in the sales that we needed or wanted.   Terry still liked to get up and be at Menard's at 6 AM and then go to breakfast.

Then, Black Friday became Thanksgiving Day Black Friday pre-sale.  Walmart loads up on inferior products to offer a guarantee that you will get before Christmas as long as you are there to pay within the first hour of the sale.  Other stores follow suit.  Black Friday sales are no longer a secret put published a week prior with a map to the inner store where the items will be displayed. Oh, there is so much more to say about what Black Friday/Thanksgiving Day sales have developed into.

But how did it happen?  Terry and I discussed this.  There are plenty of reasons even if you eliminate the financial details from the discussion.  Our theory is that families have become so spread out across the country that many are unable to visit relatives on the holiday.  Many find it easier to eat away from home. (For me, that wouldn't be so bad.  My kitchen is small and many holidays I am exiled to the kitchen while the family cuts it up in the living room.  Then I want to enjoy their company so leave the mess in the kitchen until they leave.)  Anyway, eating out leaves more time to shop.   And don't you think that shopping together has become a form of entertainment?  The thrill of the hunt.

So, when people complain that Thanksgiving is a day for family and should not include shopping, I think they don't understand the underlying reasons some attend the sales.  After all, if no one showed up, the stores would close.  Perhaps the sales serve a social purpose.

For me, I'll stay home and enjoy my family's company just as we have always done on Thanksgiving Eve.  We'll find something to stream on TV and be cozy.  Black Friday is our traditional day to decorate the house for Christmas...almost as much fun as Christmas Eve.

What do you think about Thanksgiving Day Sales and Black Friday shopping?  What are your family traditions for those two days?  I'd love to know what you think.

Happy Thanksgiving...


15 comments:

  1. HI Carol!!
    Its always so nice to look on my blogroll and see a post from you!! :) We have NEVER participated in Thanksgiving or Black Friday sales..... one there was never anything we needed THAT badly to fight those crowds and two i worked retail at Lowe's and i always had to work Black Friday.

    Hubs and i have not really discussed it like you and Terry. We just pretty much shake our heads at all the craziness and just be extra thankful we are not out in it. Our Thanksgiving tradition has always been family and food. For years and years it was big get togethers at my hubby's mom's house that i LOVED. Everybody would bring food and LOTS of food and talking and playing games like Skipbo, Dominoes, Horseshoes, there was a puzzle table where you could take a turn and put some of a puzzle together... then more food, more talk...someone would start playing the piano then the violin and on and on...Glorious memorable times we all miss terribly. Since hubby's mom and dad have passed our Thanksgiving is pretty dismal in comparison but we cook and my daughter and son in law come to eat....... I don't remember many Thanksgivings growing up. But i don not think they were large affairs.... I was so grateful for the wonderful times given me by my husbands family.... i hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Carol! Hugs! deb

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  2. I live in Canada so the Black Friday sales were always a big puzzling to us, but not anymore. Black Friday has hit here too over the past four or five years. Have to admit that I avoid the stores like the plague. I hate crowds and all the fighting over bargains. I don't need anything badly enough to put myself through all that angst. We even got a flyer in the mail today touting 'Red Thursday'. We now have pre-black Friday sales and post-black Friday sales. I guess I can understand the retailers wanting to get as much money as they can, especially with the lure of online buying. I make most of our presents so there is no need for me to 'shop'. As for Thanksgiving - ours, of course, was in October. Our family doesn't get too hyped up over it and most of the time the day passes pretty much like any other. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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  3. I sure remember lots of your memories merging with mine....McD's was 15 cents and built in a town 20 min.from us in 1964! We lived on a farm so shopping wasn't in our plans either! If we did go shopping, for Christmas, we drove to the street car stop, which took us downtown Pittsburgh!
    As far as Black Friday and shopping, I think it's just a new 'thing'...not for me...never have...never will. Times have changed and if that's what folks want to do...more power to them. I'll be at home preparing my 2nd Thanksgiving dinner for family coming on Saturday! Enjoy your time too (my tree and decorations are already up!).

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  4. We never shopped on Black Friday, and Thanksgiving Day always found us with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins...*both* sets of them, two turkey dinners in one day! This supports your theory that families were not as scattered then. Everyone showed up dressed to the nines, every year at both grandparents' homes, only an hour apart.
    I don't think shopping is as much a social activity as a desire to own more stuff. In this electronic age, there is always new stuff.
    As time has passed, life has become less simple and more hurried. We have forgotten how to relax at home. I fear a lot of over-scheduled kids of this generation will never know how to do that.

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  5. I can remember when stores began to open early the morning after Thanksgiving to begin the holiday shopping spree. There were stuffed bears and other gifts for the first 100 shoppers to lure them in early. Now people camp out for days waiting for the magic hour when the sales begin. I also remember when stores were not open on Sundays....yes, I am old.
    Shopping is not as fun as it used to be in many ways and I don't much like the crowds, so I think I will be staying home.
    xo,
    Deb

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  6. Very interesting post Carol. Black Friday sales....or the idea of them...seems to be picking up here in SA though. Probably not as big as there. We have shops here that's open on Christmas day and I know that people get upset about that too....but if you happen to be in a mall then you would be astounded at the number of people actually shopping! So yes there is a market. Also, in our multi cultural world, not everyone is Christian and not everybody celebrates the same holidays.
    Thanksgiving is not a holiday here, so I enjoyed reading about your childhood memories with your Mum.

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  7. My growing up years were much like yours with the whole family getting together in a small house -- very much togetherness *smile*. I loved them. Our family is out in Nevada and I can't imagine even trying to get out there for the holiday. As for the shopping thing. As a child my parents did that thing the banks had - a Christmas account as I recall. I don't think Black Friday began until I was an adult. Most of my jobs required that I work that Friday and not being a 'crowd' person I wouldn't be out there anyway. When we had little money I used to either make or buy Christmas gifts throughout the year. I do think that people are being manipulated now by merchandisers into thinking they have to be there on a holiday to get a good deal. All of the 'holidays' are nothing much more than a 'gimme' day taking away the whole reason they were started to begin with. And no, I'm not a scrooge *smile*.

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  8. One time and one time only my husband and I got up early on Friday to make the sales. We didn't get any of the deals as there were too many people in front of us some of them with 5 VCRs in their baskets!! We have never done it since and do almost all our shopping via the internet anyhow. It took the joy right out of the holiday for me. I do enjoy my family coming over on Thanksgiving. This year we've divvied up the food more than ever but I will still be working hard to keep it all going. I'll be exhausted by the time the night is over partly because my daughter's family stays the night and we stay up way past my bedtime. We also end up with 7 dogs running around in a tiny house which amps up the stress levels but I wouldn't trade it for a holiday without them!

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  9. My childhood memories are very much like yours, Carol. Except when our mom took us to a lunch counter place to eat, we were allowed to have a malted milk and French fries.

    That was when a chocolate malt had actual malt powder in it and the aluminum container from the shake mixer contained 2 generous glasses! Mind you, those were special, special treats.

    I've never done a Thanksgiving Black Friday and dread the thought of fighting such crowds.

    After Chris & I got married, I do admit to shopping every day after Christmas to grab up as many of that year's commemorative Hallmark ornaments as I could at half price.

    So every year when I hang them, I recall for example: "1972" ornament - I bought that for 1973!

    Happy Thanksgiving 2014 (or should I say 2015?)!

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  10. I loved this post Carol! You stirred up such good memories. I've never played Bunco though...never even heard of it. I'm going to search that game out since you said you loved to play it. I like to play games, unfortunately my family is hard to get around the game table sometimes. I think today I'll start my decorating too. I look forward to Christmas all year...I just love this time of year! xoxo Paulette :)

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  11. Such a wonderful post! As for the sales.....my family and I avoid it. We just love the time we have to enjoy a peaceful day at home.

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  12. I enjoyed reading all about your Thanksgiving and Black Friday. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving and this year was the first time I've known Black Friday sales in the UK, though only in cities and online as far as I could tell. There were news stories of injuries as people fought to buy things, which was a shame. I think we may have been better copying Thanksgiving from you instead! I hope you're enjoying your Christmas season now - we will decorate in a couple of weeks but I think we carry on for longer afterwards :)

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  13. a delightful read and so much of it resonated with me...bravo Carol, we are vintage lol

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  14. Wonderful post Carol. Just look at the comments here - you really touched people's soul. Loved reading all of these. Merry Christmas Carol and Happy, Healthy, Creative New Year.

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  15. Yes those good old days seem to have gone away forever with changing times.
    Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year

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