I’ll try to keep my ranting to a minimum, but seeing the last night’s TV commercial about making Black Friday a family outing sent me over the edge. Our Black Friday family outing is driving out to a tree farm and chopping down our Christmas tree. Nobody gets clawed, trampled, slapped, insulted, or frostbitten from camping out all night to be the first in line. Admittedly, sometimes we come away with more than our fair share of scraped knuckles, muddy jeans, and fire ant stings because we were looking at the scenery and didn’t see the mound until we were standing right on top of it. Even so, rather than our blood pressure going up, it goes down. I don’t think the folks banging into each other with shopping carts at the malls can say that.
I won’t talk much about commercialization of our holidays (because other people can do it a lot better) except to say it gets really old to walk past the Christmas aisle to get to the Halloween candy. And poor old Thanksgiving is really getting slapped around these days. A recent Family Circus cartoon showed the mom and the little boy Jeffy walking into a shopping center, one with a big Christmas tree out front and every store window boasting “Christmas Sale!” Jeffy looked at his mom and asked, “Are they not going to have Thanksgiving this year?”
I understand why it’s called “black” Friday; it’s the day stores count on to be in the black financial column instead of the red. But black is also the color of funerals, and the “thanks” part of “thanksgiving” seems to be gasping its last breath, while the “giving” part has switched from giving thanks for what we have to getting more stuff to give others (and, oh, yeah, ourselves). Black Friday eats up a lot of time and, even with the sales, a lot of money, and a few weeks later a lot of those must-have purchases will get thrown into a closet and forgotten. Instead of celebrating Christmas, we hope to just survive it. If we’re lucky enough to live through it, then we can look forward to surviving the onslaught of credit card bills come January. And every year gets worse. Not what the original Christmas birthday boy intended!
Here is where my go-to guys, the Minimalists, come in. They’ve written a terrific little piece titled “Let’s Talk About Black Friday.” The Minimalists aren’t Scrooges. They have lots of good things to say about gift-giving and how to make someone feel special. If you’re already committed to your attack plan at the local mall, chances are you won’t want to read their essay. In that case, here’s one sentence you should take with you: “Black Friday is the day we trample people for things we don’t need, the day after being thankful for what we have.” Oops! That’s not what we intended. Is it?
The only thing I’ll be buying on Black Friday is a Christmas tree and maybe a cup of hot chocolate to drink while looking for the perfect one. Any like souls out there?