POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Home for the Holidays

by David Trumbull

Novemer 20, 2009

In our home—perhaps in yours too—Thanksgiving Day festivities begin with tuning the television set to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade which we half watch and half just have in the background while preparing dinner. Macy’s—at least since the 1947 motion picture Miracle on 34th Street—has come to be more than just another vendor for holiday gifts, but itself a part of America’s Thanksgiving through Christmas holiday season. Yes, for many of us the Macy parade marks the beginning of the holidays.

Nevertheless, I miss the older television practice of showing not just Macy’s but bits of several department store Thanksgiving Day Santa parades. I liked when they would switch to the J.L. Hudson’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit and the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia. Hudson’s Department Store in Detroit is gone, but the parade—which like the Macy’s parade started in 1924—continues as America's Thanksgiving Parade. The Gimbels parade, now called the 6abc IKEA Thanksgiving Day Parade is the oldest of America’s Thankgiving Day Santa parades, having started in 1920.

Locally, from the 1940s until 1972—and again in the early 1990s—a visit to the Enchanted Village in the Jordan Marsh department store in Downtown Crossing was how Bostonians inaugurated the Christmas shopping season. Remember how, up to just a few years ago, Jordan Marsh, and its rival Filene’s put up competing Christmas displays in their windows that faced each other on Summer Street?

I have nothing against R.H. Macy’s Department Store—I wish it a profitable Christmas selling season. If Americans choose for our Thanksgiving Day morning entertainment a televised, extended-length, open-air advertisement for that retailer, who am I to object? But more and more local shops are giving way to national brands and “big-box” retailers. Local events (such as the Enchanted Village) give way to a few huge national spectacles. Likewise, our political discussions are focused much more on what is happening in Washington, rather than Boston.

The problem with looking to the national scene rather than locally is that nationally most of us have little opportunity to be anything more than observers. Locally we have power to change things. As the Democrats and liberals in Washington consolidate more and more power in the hands of a few remote unelected bureaucrats in Washington, let’s be thankful this year that we still have locally elected representatives and senators in the General Court. Next year all 200 members of that body will be up for election. Have you thought of running? Surely no one is so happy with the current crop of state legislators that you can’t think of a few you’d like to see replaced. If you think it’s time for a change and you believe you have what it takes, the Republican Party wants to hear from you!

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]