Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. It is a regular business day in Canada, which celebrates the turkey-focused family holiday in October. Same holiday, different day . . . and similar (yet distinctive) traditions. Because the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday falls on a Thursday (rather than Monday) and is much closer to Christmas, it seems to be the unofficial “official” start of the holiday shopping season. This is compounded by the fact that setting a major statutory holiday on Thursday followed by a regular business day on Friday invites, well, quite a few people to turn it into a four day long-weekend, especially since one major U.S. Thanksgiving tradition is to turn the vacation into a “return home” day if you are away from your parents or immediate relatives.
I remember well visiting the U.S. just before Thanksgiving in November 2008, just before the financial crisis tore apart the construction industry, staying for a night in Columbus, Ohio while observing door-to-door canvassing training in progress. It seemed to be a horrible time for door-knocking, but the canvasser-trainer certainly achieved results in his evaluation exercise. Unfortunately, things went wrong shortly after I left (thankfully not because of any of my own actions or decisions) but I’m not in a position to share the details. Certainly, in unrelated difficulties, a few months later my business tanked — as did virtually every other enterprise — as we fought out one of the nastiest recessions in recent history. The Canadian economy, in part because of our relatively conservative banking system and resource base, recovered much more effectively than the U.S. counterpart.
Holidays, of course, evoke common symbols, emotions, memories, and cultural distinctiveness. They certainly create business opportunities (ask any U.S. retailer about “Black Friday”.) Although our (Canadian) Thanksgiving turkey has now been well digested, I certainly wish our U.S. counterparts a great and wonderful holiday.