On the beat

What happened to Thanksgiving?

By Jim Bucher
Photo: Jim Bucher reminds readers to remember the meaning of Thanksgiving

A fun game I play by myself every year (well, that I can mention in print) is anticipating when the first Christmas commercial will show up.

Whether it’s TV, radio, billboards, social media or newspapers, it seems to come earlier every year. In 2013, a major national hardware chain had their Christmas stuff out and ready for sale before Halloween. This year, I saw a TV spot for the Joys of Christmas compilation CD around September 10.

“Act fast,” they said, “and order NOW because Christmas is right around the corner!”

Plus, if you had called within ten minutes of watching the advertisement, they would have included a free ornament.

As the kids say, WTF? (Which means, I think, “Why the Face?”) But, at any rate, we know the reason behind it. The Christmas season is BIG BUSINESS for retailers and the like, in some cases making up 30 percent or more of their yearly income. It’s huge for the bottom line.

Gosh, if it were up to retailers, Christmas would be celebrated year-round.

It’s kind of funny to think, with the hustle and bustle, pushing and shoving, camping outside for days to purchase a flat-screen TV 3 inches bigger than the one you got last year, the materialistic nature behind the urge to “buy lots and buy often” is the total opposite of the reason for the season, which, of course, is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – a man who had little wealth and who gave away everything he accumulated.

But I digress.

Before the malls and shopping centers, here in Dayton, you shopped at Rike’s. If, like me, you’re old enough to remember it, shopping at Rike’s was a downtown tradition for some 100 years and it was located where the wonderful Schuster Center is now. The store was gigantic, with something like 12 stories of clothes, shoes, appliances, perfumes, etc., but my favorite was the entire eighth floor full of toys.

Owner David Rike did it right.

As I recall, the store would close on Wednesday, before Thanksgiving. The Friday after, the entire store magically transformed into Christmas, with reindeer and Santa’s sleigh climbing the outside of the building.

And those Rike’s windows had animated figurines that graced the department store for miles – well, for a little kid at least. It’s something that’s burned into my memory. (By the way, you can still enjoy a little bit of Rike’s with the Schuster’s Winter Wonderland Windows, which include numerous, original Rike’s animated characters.)

The point is, you couldn’t find a sign of Christmas with a search warrant before Turkey Day.

I mean nowhere.

With apologies to Dr. Suess, you couldn’t find one on a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train, in a box with a fox, here, there or anywhere.

Here at the Bucher domicile, the tradition was, and still is, to decorate the day after Thanksgiving. We may have cheated a bit once or twice if we were blessed with a warm spell in November. Getting the outside lights up in below zero temps is not fun at all, but nothing was illuminated until, again, the day after Thanksgiving.

My neighbors? It depends. One family leaves the outdoor display up all year.

Hang on, I’ll check. Yep, still up and, now, turned on!

Many people will disagree and say stringing their decorations up can’t come soon enough. Others respect the holiday which precedes it.

Thanksgiving is a time to pause, reflect, count your blessings and, of course, give thanks. In our country, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly traced to a poorly documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest.

Years later, as President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America, marking Nov. 26, 1789 as “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”

From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date of Thanksgiving varied from state to state.

Then on Dec. 26, 1941, in the heat of battle during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.

So there. You have a little history of the holiday in your Buch column this week.

But the bottom line is: Let’s not rush Christmas. Let’s give Thanksgiving its just desserts.

And speaking of dessert, can you pass the pumpkin pie?

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

Buch

A regionally known and loved local television icon for over 25 years, “Buch’s” followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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