It’s Thanksgiving! Let’s Not Go Shopping!

Thanks to hotelchatter.com

Was it really necessary to start Black Friday a few hours earlier into Thanksgiving? According to an article by the New York Times posted Sunday, opening stores on Thanksgiving diluted Black Friday sales.

“The early promotions and early openings on Thursday drew some of the sales that would normally land on Friday into Thursday,” Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, told the New York Times. “What we’re going to start looking at is the ‘Black Weekend,’ a four-day weekend.”

Will this cause the retailers who opened their doors on Thanksgiving to re-think their strategy? I hope so, but I doubt it.

Ironically, the store that brings the country the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade was not open on Thanksgiving. To the retailer’s CEO, Terry J. Lundgren, Thanksgiving is about family and of course, the retailer’s Thanksgiving parade. He placed a higher value on allowing more employees to have the day off to be with their families instead of trying to bag extra sales. If anything, the retailer could be more tempted to be open to the thousands who attend the parade.

Good for him. And good for Macy’s.

His patience seemed to have paid off. When Macy’s opened its flagship Manhattan store at Midnight, deal hunters quickly filled in record numbers.

Could it be that his stance turned out to be the best marketing approach after all? Could it be that this act of goodwill became a brilliant public relations strategy?

That is not the only thing Macy’s is doing right while other merchants are struggling. Despite a pullback yesterday, its stock continues to outperform the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group.

The merchant that has given us the tradition of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is also one that is helping to preserve the holiday. The CEO was upholding an important part of Thanksgiving that money cannot buy:  spending time with loved ones. Such time is harder to find amid longer workweeks necessary to stay employed and purchase Christmas presents.

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To protest the retailers who opened their stores on Thanksgiving,
I am pledging not to purchase anything from these stores this Christmas.

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My suspicion is that Macy’s will do just fine this year sans being open on Thanksgiving. Citing figures from the National Retail Federation, the Times reported that average Thanksgiving weekend spending for retail in general rose from $423 from $398 last year. With the average family income on decline and double-digit unemployment in many areas of the country, the only explanation is consumers bought on credit. And that is just what this country needs, more personal debt along with growing Federal debt.

I am sad that a holiday President Lincoln set aside during the Civil War for Americans to count their blessings is becoming shopping day. (see http://wilstar.com/holidays/thankstr.htm) Given the recent election, it is clear our nation is deeply divided once again.

Given this, it seems to me that Americans need a day to come together and count our blessings more than another shopping day. But alas, I have been called old-fashioned before.

To protest the retailers who opened their stores on Thanksgiving, I am pledging not to purchase anything from these stores this Christmas. Please consider doing the same.

Just for Fun: Famous Tweets from Benjamin Franklin

It is a little-known secret that Benjamin Franklin was a rabid Tweeter. Lacking youth and a Persian lover, the older Poor Richard grew frustrated with a Congress that was apparently non-responsive to his letters.

Realizing the short attention span of this “limited publick,” he began posting messages of 140 characters or less – (including spaces, no fair!) – on doors of the influential colonists. “What we know for sure,” said historian Stu Pid Man, “is that Congress and President Washington seemed to disregard Franklin’s tweets concerning debt control and finance.” This is evident as the United States of America is still paying on debt from the Revolutionary War.” 

Admonishments like, “Honesty is the best policy” and “Never confuse motion with action” insulted certain influential members of Congress. Suggesting that Franklin needed shock therapy, one anonymous colonial aristocrat tweeted, “Old Ben should play with electricity.”

Other likely ignored admonishments include:

  • The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.
  • A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned.
  • Applause waits on success.
  • Creditors have better memories than debtors.
  • Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.
  • The constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.
  • Those that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.
  • The best public measures are therefore seldom adopted from previous wisdom, but forced by the occasion.
  • Well done is better than well said.
  • When in doubt, don’t.

More quotes from Franklin can be found at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/benjamin_franklin_9.html#7c07FLVxYdHBoZV0.99

For Mother’s Day: Lessons Learned From My Grandma

Since Sunday is Mother’s Day,  I want to honor my grandmother, Anna Mae Webbe, and share some of her wisdom.

Born in 1909 before women had the right to vote, she spent her earliest years in picturesque Belmont Co., Ohio. Grandma was the proud and loyal wife of William Frank Webbe, an award-winning insurance salesman for the American Association of Automobiles. Even when she could no longer drive, she continued her AAA membership out of loyalty.

She came of age during the Great Depression, which influenced her spartan lifestyle. Until her dying days, she saved envelopes for scrap paper.

A dear and kind soul, she sacrificially contributed to my college education, making me the first of my family to earn a bachelor’s degree. She wrote the society column for the Willoughby News Herald. Ironically, I became a journalist and public relations professional in the insurance industry.

Church was the center of her life. Three days before she died in 1994, she was leaving for church in her Sunday best not knowing it was Tuesday. She suffered from a massive stroke, making it to church for eternity.

Here’s what I learned from a woman who joyfully served others.

1#  Don’t let age slow you down. When grandma was in her 70s, she played whiffle ball with me and my brother.

2#  If you don’t like a subject in school, do well at it so you don’t have to take it again!

3#  Be careful of what you throw away. You never know when you might need it.

4#  Remember birthdays. Acknowledge them.

5# Always send a thank you card.

6# Serve God and others.

7#  Don’t replace anything until it is truly beyond affordable repair. Grandma could have never anticipated a world of planned obsolesce. I don’t replace anything until necessary.

8# If you need a girdle, for God’s sake, wear it! (Though, of course, it is best not to need it!)

9# Don’t waste food.

10# Lipstick also makes rosy cheeks.

11#  Buy U.S. Savings Bonds for college. Grandma took me to the bank and cashed savings bonds she and my grandfather bought for me. That money got me started at Ohio University. While I know experts say this is not the best way to save, I sentimentally started buying them at my first post-college job. By the time my daughters start college, some will be reaching 30 years of maturity.

12# Be polite and kind to all.

13# Pray.

And finally, join AAA, you never know when you will need it! I have been a member since 1990 and it has saved my bacon many times.

Washington D.C.’s Cherry Blossoms on My Mind

Washington D.C. is being enveloped in nature’s simple beauty.

Pinkish white canopies of cherry blossoms gently sprinkle to a white carpet of wonder. The buds have peaked earlier than usual this year in Washington, D.C., blooming with the promise of spring.

Dark-suited power brokers, dreamy couples, stroller-pushing mothers, tourists and joggers…are all awestruck. And, we all stop, even for a moment, for the welcome respite from the pressures of relentless traffic, unforgiving deadlines and endless meetings.We have to. For this moment does not last long. The peak is a moving target of about three days amid the randomness of March through April with an average ETA of April 4th.

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Fully blooming blossoms unfold spring’s hope of new beginnings.
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The blossoms faithfully appear every year, but too often, weather is not in sync with nature. The fickleness of spring sometimes robs us of these delicate treasures. This is my 16th full spring in Washington. And more than once, I have seen freezing rain rip blossom and branch and strong winds dissipate the splendor.

It seems Washington has only about 40 truly nice and comfortable days each year. Even as they bloom, the days can be cold, wet and cloudy. You can catch the cherry blossoms before and after peak, but the scene is not quite as majestic.

Washington is generally more out of sync than weather and nature. In this town of conflict, we cannot even agree on why weather appears to be getting more out of sync. In this town of power, we lack the power to create the moment when nature and weather merge in ultimate beauty.

As we wait, Congress debates the nation’s fate. Value-conflicted Washington mothers watch how their children play. Budget battles ensue from the kitchen table to the White House.

But there is something magical about those cherry blossoms.

Then the perfect moment comes. Fully blooming blossoms unfold spring’s hope of new beginnings. As we share nature’s beauty, there is a wonderful, quiet moment, when Washington stands still. We are reminded that there is something bigger than day-to-day hassles and clashes of destiny. And we are all a part of it.

And today, without a media campaign or pomp and circumstance, the sun did arrive. And in that moment, Washington shines its brightest.