Thursday, November 22, 2012

Black Friday Makes Me Blue

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  I am fortunate enough to come from a loving family where I feel safe and provided for, and am equally fortunate to be able to pass that along to my children.  Food, family, conversation, togetherness, and a chance to relax long enough to appreciate the things that matter in our lives....for me this has always been what Thanksgiving is about.

There is something special about a national holiday that is secular, inclusive to all Americans, and at its core about gratitude.  Taking stock of what we are grateful for in our lives is an important act that not enough of us do regularly.  I am thankful for so very much.

I probably have nothing new to add to the general discussion about Black Friday.  I'm sure it's all been said by now.  I know retailers depend on holiday sales to get themselves 'in the black' and that in this economy in particular getting more people spending helps the larger picture.  I despise the latest push to move that spending spree onto Thanksgiving Day itself.  There is a lack of respect for something I find sacred there that saddens me.  But I can't make other people use their holiday they way I would.  Maybe for someone else it's an improvement to get away from their home and into a crowded store on Thanksgiving.  I'm just glad that's not me.

I suppose the thing that bothers me is how much shopping has become part of the American identity. 
That Black Friday is almost regarded as a holiday in its own right anymore when it's all about buying things.  Sometimes I enjoy shopping, other times I don't, but I don't understand turning it into a big activity.  I know it's nice to get a good deal, but most of the people I see throwing themselves into Black Friday with abandon could pay for many of those items at the regular prices.  I'm at Target all the time and the prices are generally affordable.  When I was there last night picking up a few things we needed for our meal today I didn't see anything I had to get an absurd deal on in order to lure me there during a buying frenzy.  I have a TV.  I don't need an iPad.  If anything I have too much stuff and would like to clear some of it out of my house.

One of the sadder things I thought to come out of the tragedy of 9-11 was that in that moment of pain and reflection and a willingness of the people of our country to come together to try and repair our nation, the president of the United States told us to shop.  Not to create a network of really getting to know our neighbors so that we could check on one another in an emergency, not to discuss the importance of giving blood even when there is not a large crisis, not to learn something about self-reliance in the face of unexpected challenges.  To shop.  I have seldom been as disappointed in the words of one of our leaders.  It was an opportunity squandered, and it laid out where our priorities are as Americans.  As consumers.

Instead of shopping for my family I'd rather be with my family.  My kids would prefer to have my time than a new toy.  Their most special gifts this Christmas are the ones I'm planning to make myself.

I'm not against having things, and I certainly depend on my customers needing things in order to keep my store also 'in the black', but being an American should not be about buying stuff.  Who we are as a nation should not come down to the objects we own, especially when to keep our economy healthy it's never enough.  Obsolescence is built into the equation and we must keep buying more.  It's wasteful and short sighted and not worthy of holiday status.  Not for me anyway.  If it makes others happy I will just keep out of the way.

After I shut my laptop I'm going down to start working on the green beans and mashed potatoes to go with the turkey I smell roasting.  Aden and Quinn made my grandma's orange jello last night.  Mona made the pumpkin pie.  We'll be picking my brother up from the Amtrak station in a bit and he promised to bring his mandolin so we can play some music together.  There could be Scrabble playing, and cards.  My parents are here.  Maybe they'll go with me to walk the dog at the end of the night. 

Black Friday?  We'll go see a movie, eat some leftovers, and just enjoy having a quiet day together.  There aren't enough of those.  I'm grateful for the ones I do have.  My store will be open again on Saturday.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I wish all of you the very, very best.


  1. Never done the Black Friday thing. Never until tomorrow, anyway. Claire's school orchestra is playing in a mall tomorrow. Ugh. Oh, and since we have a van, we're responsible for getting a timpanus to the concert. I'm sure that will make parking and dealing with crowds easier.

    1. Well, that just made me laugh out loud! What a day to try and wheel around a giant drum.... Best of luck, and I hope Claire has fun.

    2. I've since learned that the singular of "tympani" is "tympano." It's Italian, not Latin. Becky thinks she's so smart. : )

    3. I learned the plural of 'Octopus' is 'Octopodes' but some things aren't worth fighting for. ('Celli' is another--you just sound goofy if you say that instead of 'cellos'.)

    4. What can I say? I went to one of those big, godless state schools. You know the one.

  2. I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful--it sounds as if it must have been.

    I LOATHE Black Friday. We spend all day Thursday being thankful for family and friends and all we have and then spend Friday beating the stuffing out of one another for a piece of junk we probably don't need anyhow. Talk about ironic...:oS