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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Don’t forget the unfortunates on Thanksgiving

By Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine Staff Writer

Here we are again, celebrating Thanksgiving. As usual, this holiday that so many venerate each year marks the official kickoff of the holiday seasons. Already, the retail sector of the economy is fixing its eyes not on tomorrow where lots of turkeys will be devoured to the sound of Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer or Christmas in Dixie, but on the bet of millions of bargain hunters who will definitely brave the midnight cold to be the first to get their hands on the “prize.”

            All over the country, from the retail giants like Wal-Mart, Target to the smallest “predators” like the neighborhood Dollar Store, the sector is damned right ready. In fact, it has been ready for weeks. But are the “preys” as equally ready? It is not so certain this year. The economic forecast for this season looks anything but promising. There are tons of signs pointing to a negative direction: the real estate market, the gasoline prices, the thousands of monthly lay-offs etc…

            This year, the squanderers may turn out to be the wise spenders or, perhaps, simply widow shoppers. This prospect dreads the big business to the core. From media tycoons to titanic CEOs, they all are feeling the blue these days. It feels like we are entering the final battle of a decisive war. Both sides are sticking to their guns and are ready to fight to a bitter end.

            But in a decisive war like this one where victory is as elusive as ever, flexing one’s political muscles is, for all practical purposes, the best and the only reasonable option. One can understand why Santa is already descended into town, leading a sustained campaign to lure the weak-minded shoppers into the net.

            At midnight eastern standard time on Friday in Saint Augustine, Florida, Santa Claus is poised to lead a parade that hopes to carry thousands of prospective shoppers to the net of every shopping mall in the area. On the hook is a series of inducements—lots of free food, lots of 75%-offs and millions of seductive smiles. The oldest city in America, Saint Augustine finds itself at the center of a major media blitz to get customers into buying Christmas gifts all over Northeast Florida. From the exclusive Saint John Town Center of Jacksonville through The Avenues Mall through the Historic District, business owners could only hold their breath and hope for a soft landing.

            Will the buyers take the bait this year? No one knows for sure. What is certain is that on the eve of the Thanksgiving Holiday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the leading index of the US economy, took another nosedive. That can only solidify sentiments on both sides, radicalizing them even more from their current positions.

            Many of my university students have told me that this year they will have to stay on the sideline, for they won’t be able to spend wildly as they used to in the past. Several of my neighbors are already looking beyond this season, while hoping that next year the economy might improve, the wild swings on Wall Street might vanish and the real estate market might rebound. But until then, they say, they’ll have to impose austerity measures to deal with what the experts have been predicting for some time: a recession.

            Finally, in this heavily disputed territory, one group stands to lose the most: the unfortunates, the homeless. They are the ones who will be seriously forgotten, and they are the ones for whom I am sending a plea to all of our readers. Please, let’s remember them on Thanksgiving Day as we sit around the dinner table surrounded by our loved ones. Let’s extend our hands to them. This might be the noblest gesture that can be accomplished during this holiday seasons. And that will not in any way hit our pocketbooks.

Happy Holiday to all of you!

Also see Happy Holidays!

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