Thanksgiving is all about personal finance

I love Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday of the year. So when I venture out during the month of November, I'm slightly annoyed to hear Christmas music piped into retail stores or to see giant, inflatable snowmen at The Home Depot. (Yes, I do secretly want one, but only after Thanksgiving.) I get mailers about Christmas presents, and when I bother turning on the TV or radio, I'm bombarded by Christmas commercials. Bah humbug!

Black Friday starts on Thursday

It seems like every year there's more of an effort to crowd out Thanksgiving. For instance, Black Friday no longer starts the Friday after Thanksgiving. Many retailers now open on Thanksgiving Day. Paul Ausick reports for MSN:

"Over the past few years, a kind of arms race has developed among retailers, and stores have opened their doors earlier and earlier each Friday. In fact, Black Friday may soon be a thing of the past. Many of the biggest retailers are even going to open on Thanksgiving Day in an effort to combat a shopping season that is nearly a full week shorter than last year's."

Ausick writes that among those planning to open on Thanksgiving Day are (and you can probably guess them): Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Sears and Kmart, Kohl's, J.C. Penney, and Old Navy. Macy's is opening on Thanksgiving for the first time in the company's 155-year history. And because so many retailers and department stores are opening on Thanksgiving, entire malls are jumping in on the early holiday sales, as well.

Thankfully, as NBC Washington reports, "Some stores are holdouts: Nordstrom posted a sign in its window this week that said it would not open on Thanksgiving or even decorate their stores before Turkey Day. 'We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time,' the notice reads." That right there is enough to turn me into a Nordie.

Thanksgiving, not gift giving

So I started thinking about why it matters to me. What's the big deal about crazy sales taking over Thanksgiving? It's not like I'll be out there in the shopping chaos anyway. But I think the reason actually has a lot to do with personal finance principles.

Thanksgiving, unlike Christmas or Valentine's Day, seems to be one of the few holidays that retailers haven't been able to capitalize off of. Sure, there are retail items here and there, like maybe some turkey-themed napkins or paper plates or something, but there's no tradition of gift exchange, so there's no way to exploit our gift-giving obligations or to play off the pressure to get our loved ones "the perfect present."