Mindy Newell: Stuffing Ourselves
I may have been a nice Jewish girl, but my family loved Christmas time. It started at Thanksgiving, when we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and watched Santa on his sleigh welcome the holiday season to New York. We lived on a block trisected by three streets, and in the middle of this triangle was an island. On this island was a tall, beautiful spruce fir. Every year after Thanksgiving all us neighbors went out and had a block party and the fathers hung lights on the tree, making it into our own private tannenbaum.
Every year my mom took my brother, two of our friends and me into the city on Christmas Eve. We skated at the ice rink at Rockefeller Center and then went across the street to watch the movie (I particularly remember Father Goose, with Cary Grant and Leslie Caron) and the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall, which always included the nativity scene with camels and elephants and horses and donkeys walking across the stage and the angels singing O Holy Night and Adestes Fideles (Come, All Ye Faithful) and ending with the Rockettes performing the “March Of The Wooden Soldiers,” complete with the high kick line.
Sometimes when we came out of the theater it was snowing, and we would walk with flakes falling on our shoulders and our hats and feeling the magic of the night down Fifth Avenue to look at the Christmas windows of Saks and Lord & Taylor, which were always amazing, animated dioramas and for which there were always lines and lines of families enjoying the night, too. And then we’d get home and my mother and father would tuck us into bed and hang up our Santa stockings and my brother and I would go to sleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads.
And it all started with Thanksgiving, when we stuffed ourselves on turkey and brisket and family and friends and love.
That was once upon a time.
“I think commercialism helps Christmas and I think that the more capitalism we can inject into the Christmas holiday the more spiritual I feel about it ”
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Times are hard
Here’s your fucking
“Thanksgiving openings are the new normal.”
Jose Pagliery, Money, CNN.com, November 30, 2013
Here’s a list of chain stores that were open on Thanksgiving: Wal•Mart. Target. Best Buy. Sears. Staples. J.C. Penney. Macy’s. Toy R Us. Old Navy. Kohl’s. Lord & Taylor. Michael’s. Express. Dick’s Sporting Goods. Abercrombie & Fitch. K-Mart. And most of the larger shopping malls.
I am disgusted.
I thought it would stop after the 2008 death of Jdimytai Damour. Remember him? As the New York Times reported on November 29 of that year, “Mr. Damour, 34, who was known to his friends as Jimbo, or Jdidread because of his dreadlocks, got his job at Wal•Mart through Labor Now, an agency for temporary workers. He had been trying to hold back a crush of shoppers pressing against the store’s sliding-glass double doors, the authorities said. Just before the store’s scheduled 5 a.m. opening, they said, the doors shattered under the weight of the crowd. Mr. Damour was thrown to the floor and trampled”
Wal•Mart was fined only $7,000 by the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), the branch of the Labor Department responsible for employee health and safety. And, according to the Huffington Post, they are still fighting that charge – “For a company with sales of $466 billion last fiscal year, the $7,000 fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration represents little more than a single store’s rounding error. Wal•Mart would have vastly outspent that sum simply in legal fees devoted to fighting the penalty. But the world’s largest retailer is less concerned with the monetary fine than with the broader implications of the case. A negative ruling could compel Wal-Mart and other retail companies like it to take additional safety precautions for workers or face new liabilities.”
And you wonder why I’m disgusted?
But surprisingly, at least to me, I discovered – after doing a little research on the web – that Wal•Mart, the most succesful “Big Box” store, did not start this atrocity. It was K-Mart, which has opened its doors to Turkey Day shoppers since 1991. Of course many supermarkets and grocery stores have always been open on Thanksgiving, at least for a few hours, to the “Thank God’s!” of all the cooks who find themselves suddenly short on stuffing or cranberry sauce or coffee or any of the numerous condiments used when preparing the big bird. I can remember making a few runs to Shop-Rite and Shelley’s for my mom over the years, and those memories are further back than 22 years. And of course I’m aware of the importance of Thanksgiving weekend to the year’s bottom line being in the black instead of the red for retailers.
But I’m still disgusted.
And I am sure that next year even more stores will be open.
Just so we can stuff ourselves on Thanksgiving.
TUESDAY MORNING: Glenn Hauman
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis