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SPOTLIGHT
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Consumerism's diminishing respite

Published on -11/25/2013, 9:14 AM

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Much is being made of the holiday shopping season. From my Facebook feed, I can tell I've come across an issue everyone can get behind: Christmas consumerism is annoying.

A lot of friends have posted memes about losing Thanksgiving in the rush to spend up Christmas. Chain stores in town were displaying Christmas before Halloween, and a week before Thanksgiving all the autumn tableware is in the half-off isle. I admit it was nice getting new towels for 50 cents.

I like to think my prairie and the little burg of Hays are somehow removed from the nonsense of the bigger cities, but the nonsense is here, we are no different. We have national chain stores that have managed to open earlier and earlier each year, moving Black Friday to Thanksgiving Thursday.

I remember when Black Friday was a good time. It was fun to find the door buster deals and get into the holiday spirit. I saw what the kids were looking at and got ideas for gifts. We were plied with hot cider or cookies and coffee, and every place we went we'd find friends. In the years when I worked Black Friday, we'd all make a go of it and have some fun.

I knew the Black Friday tradition was gone the year I saw four women wrestling over $30 DVD players. One woman had three already and wanted the last one. It was hard to watch. The sales now are feeble, and the free gifts have stopped, but we have 12 more hours of shopping and spending.

I guess this issue of commercializing Christmas comes down to your definitions of value, and where you attach priority. The big stores are open earlier every year in the competition for your holiday budget, and people are showing up, so there's incentive for the stores to be open. While I seriously doubt these stores in Hays will meet their overhead, it's done here like everywhere else.

I think of the people that have to work, having been that person a time or two in my life, and I know there's no pushing back on this score. There was a time when everything shut down for Thanksgiving, and most people who worked for wages got a rare day off to spend with their families. It was an amenable time, a time of deference. And it was a long time ago.

The stores offer a glitzy distraction, and let's face it, family can be tedious at times. The teen crowd comes out for the night, bless their energetic hearts. I can't fathom what brings a person to spend Thanksgiving shopping. Maybe the attraction is the oddness of shopping in the middle of the night.

We make what we can of the time we have. We all look forward to something of the holidays, something that brings us to reverie, touching our sentiments. These are the delights of the season, and that much will never change. The romance and nostalgia bring joy, and reflection.

I like the autumn for the string of holidays. Getting from one to the next is a challenge met by experience, always a joy even if the effort sometimes falls short of expectations. Since ancient days, autumn has been a time to be with family and friends, and share the harvest. Our traditions have meaning, and we connect with the people and things we hold dear.

Sharing our harvest is more than food, although Thanksgiving is the test of any cook and every kitchen. The countryside is neatly planted under a cloudy sky, and preparations for winter are almost done. I can stop, and be thankful. I can share my pantry with the food drives for those who aren't as cozy.

The heart knows love and comfort from tradition, and nourishing the generations with the connections of family and friends is a force of love. At Thanksgiving we can share our table and reacquaint ourselves with hearth and home.

The din and clamor of commercialism can be set aside, for this little while. Take a rest, enjoy the feast.

Mary Hart-Detrixhe is a lifelong resident of the prairie and Ellis County. Her work can be found at www.janeQaverage.com.

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