Forefathers of the Holiday Economy or Followers of Industry?

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(Left) President Abraham Lincoln, 8 November 1863; (Right) President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 21 August 1944.

Tis the season!

From Thanksgiving Thursday > Black Friday > Small Business Saturday > Cyber Monday > Giving Tuesday.

Which came first, the chicken, the turkey, or the egg?

Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey was a better bird for America than its initial spirit animal:

“For my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly…the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.” — From Benjamin Franklin to Sarah Bache (His Daughter), 26 January 1784

But I digress. He wrote that letter decades before Thanksgiving became a federal holiday.

(Upper Left Image) An Illustration of a chicken; (Bottom Left Image) An Illustration of animal eggs; (Right Image) 1896 Editorial Cartoon, Cover of Puck Magazine, illustrated by Louis Dalrymple — Shows William McKinley and Mark Hanna about to carve up the presidency at Thanksgiving.

Five days equates a business week, correct? In that case, it only took under a 100 years to manufacture, but this past week—from “Thanksgiving Thursday” through “Giving Tuesday”—is part of the most economic centric-week of the modern America year.

But how modern and innovative is our thinking?

If economies are constructs of industries and societies [people], imagined, shaped, and formed, then we can reconstruct our economies, by shifting our thinking and behavior.

What primary shape does our current national economy have?

Linear. [Take > make > use > waste]

Why?

Several reasons.

Is the current shape of the economic and manufacturing system effective for the planetary system as a whole?

No.

In fact, it is quite inefficient.

We need to construct a new circular system. The current is not sustainable and threatens our very existence as humans living on earth. Constructed linear economies depletes Earth’s capital and jeporadizes futures.

Want to grow something? Let us grow up! Let us as societies level up.Let us revisit our steps, lean into historical truths, correct the wrongs, learn from our mistakes and oversights. As a result, we can create smarter and more sustainable economies.

We need to make up for lost time. Therefore, innovative and bold change is necessary to get us there. Yet, assessing and confronting truths can be challenging, especially since cultures and behaviors can hold great sway. Understanding the WHYs and WHATs we shop is fundamental to figuring out how to make a better economy. Such answers will help inform how best to change market behavior for the betterment and survival of humanity, on this, our warming and plastic infested planet.

A Snapshot for Understanding the Holiday Economy and Industries’ Influence

➡️ 1931 — Santa got a wholesome makeover and became a spokesmodel, when the character became the face of a major beverage brand. It was the 1st holiday marketing campaign and was illustrated by Haddon Sundblom.

(Left Image) 1881 Illustration of “Merry Old Santa Claus,” January 1 edition of Harper’s Weekly; (Top Right Text: “1931 Beverage Brand Gave Santa a Makeover); (Bottom Right Images) 1903 Chromolithograph, “When We All Believe” by Rose O’Neill, for the December issue of Puck Magazine

Nov. 1939 — Thanksgiving temporarily moved to the 3rd Thursday in November to grow the U.S. economy, (towards the end of the Great Depression) by President Roosevelt. This was a pivot from President Lincoln’s reasoning for creating the national holiday in 1863, which was to help unify Americans, after the Civil War. By 1941, the Thanksgiving Thursday permanently went back to the 4th Thursday of the month. Yet, the economic intention had already been planted..

➡️ Post WWII, and conquests for fossil fuels, the ascension of plastics began, a fuel for linear markets

🗓️ 🛒 November 1980s — “Black Friday” took off, branded as a retail sale experience, at a national level

➡️ The 80s & 90s saw the rise of franchise & mall culture. (As an 80s baby I was a pro at scouting out the toy catalogues)

🗓️ 💻 November 2005 — The first “Cyber Monday” took place to drive online shopping holiday sales

➡️ 2007 — The iPhone debuted and retail sales accelerated linear inventory

🗓️ 🎗️November 2012 — The first “Giving Tuesday,” a day for global generosity, took place

➡️ Between 1979–2022, donations to nonprofits, by American households, went from 48% to 27%.

So What do We the People do Now?

Economies are fueled by both industrials’, marketers’, federal, and consumers’ behavior. Currently, they are predominately operated amongst linear wasteful and unsustainable systems.

For the sake of our global and national future, how do we collectively shift towards a circular economy together?

How do we go from needing to be reminded to be charitable to it being innate to help our global, national, and local communities, on any given day of the year?

When Lincoln created Thanksgiving, he envisioned that as a divided nation, we could come together “to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.” As a country, as an economy, have we ever made and upheld that approximately 160 year old idea a reality? Could you imagine that?

Just about seven years from 2030, and a few days from 2023, what New Year and New Economy resolutions are we making and sticking to together, in perfected union?

If industries innovate materials, manufacturing, product lifecycles and processes, will governments follow suit? Or, is it the other way around? At this point, as we need to create circular economies, mature from linear ones, it seems we need to go about the creation of circular economies from various points of relativity, till we create a loop from the various lines. Deck the halls with notices that all hands are needed on deck!