Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

November 20, 2013

Are holiday traditions being bowled over in favor of the best deals of the year?

— — For the first time in 11 years, the West Virginia University Mountaineers will not be heading to a bowl game this holiday season. A nightmarish loss this past Saturday to the Big 12 cellar-dweller Kansas Jayhawks — a team that prior to beating WVU on Saturday had lost 27 consecutive conference games — dashed any hopes of a holiday bowl this year for the Mountaineers.

The Virginia Tech Hokies, by comparison, who have struggled on the gridiron as well this year, are now bowl eligible. So at least one local team will be playing a holiday bowl this year. But it really won’t be the same for many without the Mountaineers playing a bowl game in the days leading up to the new year.

But a holiday season without a Mountaineer bowl game isn’t the only change we are seeing this year. Just look at what is happening to Thanksgiving. What was once a time to thank God for our many blessings while also enjoying a bountiful dinner with family and friends is now slowly transforming into Black Thursday. That’s right. Black Friday is bleeding into Thanksgiving Day, and thus giving birth to Black Thursday. This may or may not be a good thing.

A growing number of retailers this  year will be opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day with once-a-year door-buster savings. Some will be opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving  evening, and others at 8 p.m. And many other stores will be open all day Thanksgiving Day. Call it a shop-till-you drop holiday marathon.

The good news is that folks looking for the best deals of the year will no longer have to get up at 3 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving to be in line for the big sales at 4 a.m.

The biggest door-buster deals of the year are, instead, largely being offered on Thanksgiving Day. As a result, folks can shop on Thanksgiving evening and still get home by 11 p.m. — thus ensuring a full night’s sleep and a non-groggy day at work the following Friday. (And yes — some of us still have to work on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The newsroom included.)

But this still comes at a price. Family gatherings over the turnkey and stuffing are being cut short, or being canceled altogether in order to make time for waiting in line at the local department store or mall. After all, the big sale starts at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. So if you want to be one of the lucky few to grab the limited number of 32-inch flat-screen televisions for the unheard of $98 price tag, you have to be out of the house and waiting in line at least by 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. That means there is no time for Thanksgiving dinner. But you can probably squeeze in a big lunch. Just don’t plan on saving the leftovers for dinner. Not if you want to get that flat screen TV for $98. Because if you aren’t one of the lucky few waiting in line two to three hours in advance, there won’t be any of the $98 flat screens or $5 blenders left by the time you make it to the store. Oh — and there won’t be any parking spaces left either. Be prepared to walk a long distance.

As a result of Thanksgiving Day becoming Black Thursday, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner will become a quick Thanksgiving lunch for many. Some won’t bother traveling to grandmother’s house for the big meal — opting instead for the bigger deal at the local department store or mall.

So the decision must be made for many. What’s more important? The traditional Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, or the $5 blender? Times are still tough. And a lot of people depend upon the big Black Friday deals for their Christmas gifts. Come to think of it, I could use a $5 blender.

Many will opt to shop. Others will enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It all comes down to a matter of personal preference I suppose. It is a tough choice. Turning away a big holiday meal in favor of even bigger holiday sales isn’t an easy decision. But it is one that millions of families across our nation will have to make this year.

It’s another sign of the changing times. A holiday season without a WVU bowl game. And a Thanksgiving without a big Thanksgiving meal. Are timeworn traditions going the way of the dinosaur? These times they are a changin’. And it can be argued that it isn’t always for the best.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.

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