“I think we have a sort of Norman Rockwell view of Thanksgiving,” said Kit Yarrow, head of the psychology department at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. “It’s not really linked to reality for most Americans.”
Thanksgiving has long been in danger of getting subsumed by Christmas. Every year, Americans bemoan the encroachment of pine trees and presents on pilgrims and pumpkin pie, a phenomenon the retail industry calls “Christmas creep.” But for many, a line seems to have been crossed.
“RESPECT THE BIRD!!!” Doug Matthews, 49, an avid amateur chef from New Jersey, proclaimed in a blog post.
Matthews said he penned the diatribe last year when he spied Christmas candy on the shelf at a grocery store before the Halloween treats had been discounted. He took his rant to the social cooking site Allrecipes.com, where he had been posting recipes for corn muffins, carrot salad and other dishes for nearly 15 years.
The response, he said, blew him away. It spawned a Respect the Bird campaign on Facebook, and more than 2,500 have pledged this year “to not let Black Friday shopping gobble up my Thanksgiving.” Matthews said even his 6-year-old son is on board, leaning out of the family’s car window to yell “Respect the Bird!” at homes that already have their Christmas lights up.
“It was a little like Thanksgiving was getting occupied by Christmas,” Matthews said. “I didn’t want it getting overlooked.”
Angie Seaman, 42, of Hagerstown, Md., took the pledge last month. She said the campaign resonated with her because she had to work on Thanksgiving five years in a row as a manager at a craft store. This year, she plans to cook a turkey dinner, complete with stuffing and potatoes, at her home with friends.
“Every single year that I worked, people would come in and shop, and everyone would say, ‘I can’t believe you’re open on Thanksgiving,’ ” she said. “Well, we wouldn’t be open on Thanksgiving if you didn’t shop.”
Resisting the lure of Christmas bargains may be harder this year as such retailers as Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Kohl’s open for business on Thanksgiving for the first time. Other stores, such as Macy’s, Best Buy and Target, plan to kick off the season at midnight. For customers lining up early for deals, Best Buy is planning an outdoor screening of the latest Harry Potter movie at 9 p.m. Thursday at about 120 stores nationwide, including those in Laurel and Fairfax.
But some retailers are playing defense. Photos of a sign that Nordstrom posts annually explaining why the upscale department store has yet to unveil its holiday decor went viral this year. “We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time,” it reads.