I’ve always wondered why enterprising American businessmen and women have permitted the decorations to slag off entirely between Halloween and Christmas when there are a clear cut number of weeks when people could be inspired to buy a whole other set of lights, ornaments and figurines for Thanksgiving. Especially now that we are in a recession and new environmentally harmless industries are needed. Meanwhile, over the years the Halloween train has been getting longer and longer. The level of art direction ,the sophistication of the Halloween lights, (in a tony purple and orange) and the addition of an endless pantheon of new and much more frighteningly real looking scary figures and weird substances to hang in the yard has been clearly increasing. Some catalogs I browse even sell Halloween ornaments and trees. Now that’s the American ingenuity I grew up with!
Yet Thanksgiving has remained a decoration wasteland. No animatronic life-sized figures of mechanically emoting Pilgrims or Native Americans. No shrubbery strung with distinctively colored lights, perhaps shaped like pies or maize or turkeys. (Hint: Amber, gold and brown aren’t taken by any of the other holidays yet!) What a missed opportunity for merchandising, I always say to myself. Someone could make a fortune selling a laughing robotic Halloween witch who comes with an interchangeable Pilgrim outfit that, a few weeks later, can be altered to make a Santa Outfit .Or even better, accessories that turn it in to an enticing but slightly frightening ear of corn! Celebrate 3 holidays in a row for one bargain price!
I am thinking that perhaps the fact that the turkey/pilgrim motif hasn’t generated and expanded in to more merchandise on its own means its time for an imagery shift. Personally I would like to see the “NEW Thanksgving” center more around magic and pies. No one is using the pie as a holiday symbol. It has everything. Variety! An amusing shape! An intrinsically funny word! There is no baked goods oriented holiday. Christmas cookies are way at the bottom of Christmas imagery. Halloween is all candy. So I say we start with pies and then slowly expand in to cakes and popovers and special Thanksgiving muffins, and the cartoon characters they can so easily become.
Here in Cincinnati and environs, I saw a few homes decorated for Thanksgiving. But its not a massive trend yet, possibly because we have let down the adventurous re-decorating oriented families by limiting them to the old school turkey imagery. In the all NEW Thanksgiving, we will offer them a choice of big inflatable pies for the lawn along with strings of dessert shaped lights! There will be a Thanksgiving tree with ornaments shaped like everything you have ever served for Thanksgiving. Sweet potato shaped lights will be both weird and kind of beautiful. Come on, Lillian Vernon Catalog or Martha Stewart or some branch of the Obama administration who are seeking to stop the continuing unemplyment trend….Seed money is all I need to get this thing going!
We might also need a new universal Thanksgiving symbol…someone we love and can take to our hearts that doesn’t require the slaughter of a perfectly nice animal. I think something along the lines of a magical Native American who can fly and travel through time, delivering pies, with his merry band of mischevious yet industrious colorful and oddly shaped gourd creatures. He will be one part old school Thanksgiving, one part Santa, one part Edward Cullen! He will be irresistible and previously cynical ill tempered adolescent girls will all rush to get on board.
When I get back to California I will work up some sketches.