Thanksgiving: An overlooked industry that could spawn new jobs

Posted in blog post on November 17th, 2009 by Merrill Markoe

yard turkeyI’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.  thanksgiving decoration 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.

He probably needs one main helper….Someone with the genial spirit of a Mr. Wippity Wipes, only  shaped like a gourd. Or awippity wipes pie.

5 Responses to “Thanksgiving: An overlooked industry that could spawn new jobs”

  1. Margaret says:

    I’d be happy to help with cataloging supplies like the pink flamingos and metallic garland you’ll need to make the turkey twins.

    • Merrill Markoe says:

      Until you said this, I didn’t realize those were (possibly) pink flamingoes being used in the turkeys.. But talk about an over-looked symbol that doesn’t connect to an existing holiday!

    • SusanM says:

      I suffered a severe depression this summer, which required hospitalization for a week.
      One thing I was able to do was read, especially very funny or very heavy material.After I read your book, Walking in Circles Before Lying Down, I then found your blog. After reading your entries along with the comments from your other fans, I realized that there are many like-minded (in other words, intelligent and very funny) individuals out there.
      I’m recovered now,and unfortunately for my good friends, back to my ADD, random musings and yapping.
      Thank you for all of it!

  2. SusanM says:

    I just realized that this particular place ,“Thanksgiving: An overlooked industry that could spawn new jobs” was a weird place to post my confessional, but I wasn’t sure which one would be appropriate.
    Ah, well, I’ll be more aware next time.

    • Cathy says:

      I think it’s a nice place to post your confessional. And I agree with you: lots of witty individuals post here. It’s good to laugh. Here’s to your health.