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Thanksgiving kick-starts holiday season

The season of generosity and philanthropy is also the busiest annual retail-shopping time, writes Shalini Narang.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2005 10:03 IST
CALIFORNIA DIARY | Shalini Kathuria Narang
CALIFORNIA DIARY | Shalini Kathuria Narang

The four-day thanksgiving holiday last week formally commenced the season of celebration. The festivity of gratitude second only to Christmas in its significance and celebration in the US is a quintessential family tryst of parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and others in the extended circle of love and at times loathing.

Airport and road rush are legendary, as everyone seems to be on the go to meet and greet family members. Another vital inclusive of the festivity marked with turkey dinners, potato salads, family get together, Macy's Holiday parade and cosy cum crazy conversations is the spirit of giving and charity. People donate meals, serve at soup kitchens for the homeless and dig deep into their pockets to donate to various social causes.

The season of generosity and philanthropy is also the busiest annual retail-shopping time and the post thanksgiving sale has become a legend in its own right in the US. The supposedly busiest shopping day of the year is an experience of sorts to view the famed aggressive American marketing is at its best and boldest. From midnight openings and morning alarm services to freebies and generous discounts, big and small stores go all out to attract shoppers to jet set the shopping spirit. This year again the retail period has begun with a bang with successful Black Friday sales reported by many stores. Retailers have nicknamed the day as a Black Friday since the profits on this day can help them get out of red (losses). Though the latest electronic gizmos like the X360s, Plasma TVs and high configuration laptops high on people's wish and shopping lists were lapped off within minutes of store openings, the other mundane items like clothing, cosmetics and crockery also shared space in shopping carts of enthusiastic shoppers. The next couple of weeks will see a continuance of the spirited shopping sprees not only in the real brick and mortar stores but also on virtual online stores.

In the milieu of celebration and rejoicement, the pace of work at offices slows down and many people sneak out for extended lunches to do gift purchases.

As a first generation immigrant, many of my experiences of local customs and festivities are also via my school going daughter. By partaking in the occasions at her school, I get to learn and experience the history and customs marking the myriad American festivities. This year, as a part of Thanksgiving feast in her classroom, I and other parents cut fruits for a fruit salad that my daughter's second grade class shared with fifth graders as an expression of gratitude to the senior class for their time, help and camaraderie with myriad academic and non academic activities. In a the similar vein, the craft project of an apple turkey that eventually made its way to my home and embellished my dining table through the holidays and in the absence of a real turkey, helped us appreciate the festive solidarity. The importance of family reunions is unparallel on emotional and social plane and undoubtedly worthy of cheer, cherish and celebration.

Christmas tree lightings and carols by church choirs are another inclusive of the upcoming holiday cheer and city squares are coming alive with beautified towering pines. Various shapes and sizes of yuletide lights and decorations have begun appearing on front yards, doors and windows of homes besides the shopping plazas. Embellishments at some homes replete with the latest lighted bric-a-bracs and gadgets are a sight to behold. One of my personal favourites of the season is to walk around my neighbourhood with my husband and daughter to see the artistically lighted homes and hearths.

Another vital holiday tradition on our side of the world is the spectacular performance of the Nutcracker ballet by big and small ballet companies in various cities. Advertisements for the dance around the story of the Nutcracker prince, a girl, mice and a holiday party have begun in all earnest and artists and companies are going all out to attract one and all. Some of the large and reputed companies like the San Francisco Ballet and the Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley are expecting record crowds of 90,000 and 30,000 respectively for the upcoming season.

First Published: Dec 02, 2005 16:53 IST