Back in the early 80’s… when everything was closed on Thanksgiving.

by | Nov 26, 2014 | Family & Friends | 4 comments

All kinds of people are having all kinds of opinions about deal shopping on Thanksgiving.

One day as I was reading all the opinion I said to myself, “Self. What’s your opinion?”

As soon as I engaged me on the topic I had a flashback to a Thanksgiving memory of years past.

You know… Back in the early 80’s… when everything was closed on Thanksgiving.

The year? 198early. Like 1985? 86?

I remember driving with my family though the streets of Long Beach, California. I remember leaving my grandmother’s house with my mom, dad, little sister, and the ham. My grandmother had left a little before us with my other uncle.

I remember not having an address book with us in the car. An address book containing the address of my aunt and uncle in Long Beach.

(Now-a-days our addresses are easily accessible by our mobile devices. Back in 1985ish – there was no such convenience.)


There we were.

Mom. Dad. Sister. Ham.

Long Beach.


On Thanksgiving.

We had only been to my aunt and uncle’s home once before. So, instead of driving back to grandma’s house (which was an hour away) to use her phone to call my aunt and uncle to get there address… and then chart our course on a free map from AAA because we have always been members… we drove around Long Beach without a compass for I have no idea how long in hopes of miraculously finding Auntie and Uncle’s fair home.

Every business we passed was closed. We stopped to look at phone books hanging from pay phones, but unlisted numbers are not found in phone books.

Remember those?



My memory even wants to tell me the gas stations were closed as well. My memory is suggesting my dad expressing some disstress about driving around so much because no gas stations were open (that we passed at least) and we needed to be able to return to Grandma’s house that evening after our gluttony.

I remember every day before Thanksgiving/Christmas double and triple checking the food list because there was not last-minute day-of run to any store in those days.

At this point in the telling of this story I almost feel like we rode in a horse-drawn carriage and walked to school uphill both ways in the snow… but I could be wrong.

Fast forward 20 30 years later and we not only have every phone number we could possibly need at any given point in time, we can shop for big screen TVs while most people are just sitting down to eat their Big Thanksgiving meal. Heck, we can run to the store at 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and grab that can of creamed corn if needed. Or pumpkin pie. We don’t even have to make pies anymore!

How do I feel about this being able to buy big screen TVs or socks on a screaming deal when 20 years ago the doors of consumerism we shut down tight?

I don’t think I really care.

Maybe I do a little. I like the idea of shutting down. If only for a day.

But I don’t care enough to blast anyone or any social stream with a strong opinion either way.

I like the notion of having to hunker down and truly prepared to not have access to buy anything for an entire day.


However, if there is someone out there who not only needs a can of creamed corn but also a big screen TV, do as you must.

I’m pretty sure I’ve made a quick run or two to get eggnog. And probably liquor. On account of OBVIOUSLY.

Personally, I like the idea of having a day where I am completely, utterly at home. Not fighting traffic. No waiting in lines. Filling mah bellee. Allowing tryptophan to do it’s thang. Yes, I wrong THANG.

Those folks who now must work on the holiday? Hey… gainful employment is a very good thing and anyone who wants to earn money doing a honest day’s work – I have absolutely no problem with that.

I do feel for those who would rather not work on the holiday but must because they do not have the seniority, etc. to get out of it. That’s a bummer.

To be honest, part of me longs for those pioneering days of the early 80s. The preparations that had to be made. The stories that came out of the struggle.

No open gas stations.

No address book in the car.

A ham.

A houseful of hungry aunts and uncles and cousins waiting for said ham.

Stories of struggle.

Stories of triumph.

Is there triumph without struggle?

Modern technology and convenience have robbed us of some struggle/

And therefore triumph.

Unless, of course you score a great deal on Amazon AND it’s you have Amazon Prime, and we all know how beautiful Amazon Prime is.

I digress…

I think we ended up being an hour late. But we found the house… before the ham went bad.

And everyone was very hungry.

Maybe cranky, but I don’t remember because I was a teen and very self-focused so other’s poeple’s feelings didn’t really weigh on me.

But I’m sure everyone was thankful… for that year there could have been no ham.

But there was.

The ham, she was even sweeter than the honey it was baked in… all because of the struggle.

I miss you 1980s.

And phone booths.

The struggle today is the struggle between two people fighting over the last big screen.

And that’s just not as good as my ham story.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I hope that however you choose to spend your time this holiday is blessed and filled doing things with people you love. Or making money.


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