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Carpe Turkey Diem

November 2, 2011
I make no apologies for the following rant. It has nothing to do with life insurance or annuities; tax-exemptions or community service activities; solvency, relevance, or governance. It has to do with values – values that appear to be withering under the relentless attack of American retailers. Almost everyone I know agrees that Thanksgiving is the best of all holidays. It combines the three most unifying “f” words – family, food, and football – without the requirement of (or financial pressure) of gift-giving. About the worst thing you can do is overcook the turkey. So, lather it with a little more gravy. Or, better yet, do what we do and make the bird a second act to the antipasto, lasagna, and cannoli. But retailers keep encroaching on this most wonderful of celebrations by moving the starting time of “Black Friday” a little earlier each year. I remember stores opening at 7:00 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving. I found this mildly annoying, but tolerable – especially since I do 99 percent of my Christmas shopping online. Then it became a race to the bottom as major retailers began competing to see who could open earlier or attract more “bargain seekers” by offering “door busters” – special deals on a few big ticket items available only to those willing to camp out overnight – on Thanksgiving, may I remind you – to get them. Some bargain. This year several stores will kick off the Christmas buying season by opening at midnight on Friday. That’s right, you can go almost straight from the table to the store with barely enough time to force down an Alka-Seltzer. Personally, I find this type of competition disgusting. It undermines the spirit of Thanksgiving and reduces both the quality and quantity of time people can spend with their families – families who today are often far flung and may only have a few chances a year to see one another. And please don’t tell me that standing in line at Wal-Mart with your sister-in-law is quality time, because it isn’t. So, in the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street protestors, I am organizing my own demonstration to be known as “Carpe Turkey Diem.” It’s easy to participate. Just stay home on Friday morning until a decent hour – let’s say 8:00 a.m. – and send a message to retailers that says, “We’re going to buy stuff for Christmas, but not until we’ve had a chance to hug our families, perform our morning ablutions, and fill up on Aunt Mary’s pizelles!” That’ll show ‘em… Disclosure Notice: The author is a member of one of those far-flung families who will be able to come together as a group only once this year – at Thanksgiving. The author is also married to a wonderful woman who works for a major national retailer who will be at her post at 11:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night getting ready for the midnight opening of the Black Friday sale. The author is none too pleased about this because he’s going to have to eat his Aunt Mary’s pizelles by himself that morning. Friday, Nov. 4, 2011:  "Wow, I write about regulatory issues and no one responds.  But I write about Black Friday excesses and you come out of the woodwork.  Thanks for all those comments!  There are at least 12 of us that will be sending a message to retailers this year: "Yes, we want a flat screen TV at a deep discount - but we want it at noon and not midnight!". BTW, my Aunt Mary's recipes and contact information are secret, so if you want some you have to come by the house over the holiday.  I'll be waiting for you...