Following an unbearably protracted election season of negative campaigning and raw-throated public “discourse” in which the emphasis always seemed to be on some form of taking, getting, needing, wanting, denying, deploring, demanding and deceiving, isn’t it nice, at long last, to enter the season of giving and thanking?
The simple virtues always disappear at election time. Even basic decency goes out the window, as candidates circulate the most hideous images of their opponents they can find. The opponent is usually depicted in grainy black-and-white, either with a mug-shot sneer or captured at an off moment with eyes closed to slits or mouth wide open, laughing inappropriately.
By now we are ready to move beyond all that and into the sweetly innocent realm of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday of the year, a time of blessedly simple rituals and little fanfare. That the holiday has survived in such an unspoiled state seems almost miraculous to me. It’s like a piece of pristine land—surrounded on all sides by the encroaching, half-crazy commercial sprawl of Christmas—that has yet to succumb to the bulldozer’s blade.
But now, at last, the great day seems to be in real danger. For years, retailers have been nibbling away at the barrier between Thanksgiving calm and Christmas madness. For a while they were content to open at 6 a.m. on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving. Then the opening crept back, earlier and earlier. It was camped for a couple of years at midnight. But now the stores have made a brutal leap, like zombies breaking through the doors and windows of a farmhouse. Target has announced it will be opening at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Tanger Outlets in Westbrook followed with word they’d be opening at 10 p.m.
Clearly, it won’t be long before the sprawl of Christmas is utterly triumphant. All the stores will open all day on Thanksgiving. It will be a move, like all the other encroachments, that gains the retailers very little (after all, we still buy presents no matter when the shopping season begins). But it will cost the rest of us—especially those who value family, home, peace and quiet—a great deal.