The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday and the next day is promoted as Small Business Saturday or Independents Day, a time when merchants on Madison Street hope to enhance their bottom lines. Most merchants on the street contacted by the Review said business was good. Based on that, you might surmise that folks in town would be in the mood to shop, but that wasn’t true for everyone.
When asked if they were in the holiday spirit, patrons at Louie’s Grill, Counter Coffee and around town gave a wide variety of responses. Reland, who is 6 years old, said, “I’m mostly excited about the holidays, especially that we have food and see family. I don’t care about what the holiday is about because family is the good part … except the Santa part. I like that.”
Nancy, who was busy serving customers at Louie’s last Saturday took a moment to say, “Christmas is the best holiday for me. I love buying presents especially for the little kids. I’m also happy that a lot of kids still believe in Santa Claus. Christmas and Thanksgiving are the best holidays. They make me feel warm inside. Everything negative that’s been going on lately can’t spoil it for me. I can’t wait to start shopping for the little ones.”
Tony interrupted his breakfast at Louie’s to say he was in a good mood, and looked forward to putting up the tree and buying presents.
The majority of people, however, were not in the mood to shop till they dropped. In fact, Kate said, “I would like to hope that the Christmas season will make people kinder to each other, but I’m also so sickened by the consumerism, and I just want to hang up some pretty lights and stay home.”
Likewise, Monika responded with, “I’m not in the mood for shopping. I don’t participate in Black Friday because people are not very friendly when shopping.”
Noel Eberline, one of Yearbook’s owners, confirmed that the emotional roller coaster of the last month or so had taken its toll on people, but he said it may be for that very reason that business was really good. First, the Small Business Saturday promotion brought in a lot of customers, but second he said people were looking for some beauty and joy after the contentious election, and they appreciated how artistically Yearbook was decorated for the holidays.
Other people on the street didn’t mention Santa and presents at all, but talked more about the religious meaning of the holidays. For example, Tina said, “My holiday mood is joyous friendly, and as long as we keep the reason for the season — the birth of our Savior — in focus, everybody will have a really good holiday.”
A woman who didn’t give her name spoke about the days after Thanksgiving in liturgical terms. “We are thankful for our family and friends. We are in a mood of waiting — Advent — for the true meaning of Christmas, the coming of our Lord and Savior.”
Bryna seemed to be thinking more about Thanksgiving than Christmas when she said, “During this holiday season, I feel as though we should all be grateful, yet humble, for what we have and for those who play an important role in our lives. I, personally, am extremely grateful and thankful, for my entire family, my husband and both of my children, my dearest of friends, my furry family members, good health, and endless happiness.”
Isabell and a man named Q put down their drinks at Counter Coffee to say, “We definitely feel in the holiday mood, not so much for shopping and things like that, but more for being home from college. It’s nice to come home and see our family and friends.”
Many who responded acknowledged that the emotional roller coaster ride during the last month or so has made it more difficult to get into the holiday, much less get motivated for shopping, but added that their religious faith should be able to trump any fears they may have.
Luanne, for example, said, “The juxtaposition of the Cubs winning the World Series and then the election was very strange for me. I think the election has unleashed a lot of ugliness, but putting Christmas on top of all of this calls us to react by putting kindness and joy out there.”
For Tremist, her good mood began when the Cubs won the World Series, continued through Thanksgiving and she anticipates that it will continue till Christmas. “No matter what is going on,” she declared, “it won’t kill my Christmas spirit. I am blessed.”
Kathy also mentioned North Side baseball in almost religious terms saying, “The Cubs winning the World Series gives me a feeling of happiness that I can carry into the next year, a feeling of hope no matter what happens — good or bad.”
So did Tyna who said, “I am happy for the Cubs. I am hopeful for our country and humble in the eyes of God.”
For Mary, who is a church musician, Advent and Christmas is a very busy time. Sitting at a quiet table at Counter Coffee, she said, “I’m enjoying the ‘breather’ of the Thanksgiving weekend before the holiday season begins. I’m grateful for the gifts of time, family, vocation and home.”
The results of the recent election have dampened the holiday spirit for some, at least for the time being. “I’m really apprehensive about the incoming presidential administration,” said Jerry. “He makes me very nervous.”
“Right now I am trying to escape from reality by trying not to think or talk about the election,” Jim responded. “Thank god for the Cubs, even though I am a White Sox fan.”
Barry was more measured in his response. He’s taking more of a wait-and-see position toward the Trump presidency. “I wouldn’t say the election results are spoiling my holiday mood as much as dwarfing the usual holiday feeling.” He looked forward to Christmas to lift his spirits, saying that being with family and friends at this time of year is more of a “boost” above reality than an escape.
In contrast, Ernie waxed eloquent about the election results. “I’m in a positive and delightful mood,” he said. “Finally, we have the right man to lead our nation down the right path, both biblically and constitutionally. Therefore, I’m a happy man, and I thank God Almighty for answered prayers.”
Acknowledging that Donald Trump is a flawed human being, Ernie added, “He who is without sin cast the first stone at Trump. Remember, God forgave King David after he committed adultery.”
David admitted not liking how the election turned out but had a whole different and personal perspective on what happened. “My wife and I are both quite scared of what may happen in a Trump administration,” he said, “but I don’t think our perspective on the holidays will change that much because of the help we received when Teresa had ovarian cancer last year. As a result, we want to do a little more to help those in need.”
“I have decided,” David added, “to give Trump a chance as he is now our designated president. I say ‘designated’ because he lost the popular vote.”
Two women at Counter Coffee said they were unable to get into the holiday spirit for reasons that had nothing to do with the election. Sarah said she is stressed out right now because she is finishing her last semester of college.
“I think I’ll be excited about Christmas when that’s over,” she said.
Josie confessed that the holidays are depressing for her, as they are for many people, especially those who are going through the loss of a loved one or a job or their health. “I like Christmas,” she said, “but for some reason it brings me down.”
Ned said he was feeling great, not because of the holidays, but because of what was happening in school District 209. “I have never felt more energized than I do now,” he said. “It is more important than ever to steward our local commonwealth wisely and with passion for our kids and community and I am so proud to be part of the amazing transformation taking place in our Proviso community schools!”