Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blacker Thursday

I’ll be completely honest and say, I am not a big fan of this latest trend in retail.  My disdain has nothing to do with the loss of the tradition of rising early the morning after Thanksgiving, downing a cup of coffee while trying to ease the worst case of bed head ever into submission and slipping behind the wheel of my car before my eyes are even open.  I’ve done that for the past eleven years and while it’s fun to watch crazy people trying to save some money and fight over the current year’s trend, I don’t mind sleeping in that day.

No, this is about losing something much worse that I believe sends a terrible message to the generation in our elementary schools.  It says, we, as a people, cannot devote one day - one twenty-four hour period of time out of a 365 day year - and just enjoy being home with our family and giving thanks for what we already have.  We have to shorten that day so we can go out and argue with people for more stuff that we’ll just put in next year’s garage sale.  It really is a terrible thing to teach our children.

I’m not sure when Black Friday began.  I could look it up, but this is merely a blog I’m not getting paid for, so I’d rather ramble on instead of doing the research.  Feel free to look it up and leave the answer in the comments section below, however.  I’m sure, though, that it was probably brought into existence in small doses.  Most stores normally opened at ten in the morning, so they pushed it back to eight and offered special deals for those willing to brave the earlier time.  A few years later, it was seven, then six, and a couple of years ago it was four in the morning and paper carriers had to dodge crazy sales seekers.  Last year, it started at midnight and this year the mayhem begins at 8 pm Thanksgiving Day in some stores.  It’s no longer Black Friday; it’s Blacker Thursday.

We should have seen it coming.  More and more businesses were beginning to stay open on Thanksgiving Day, as well as restaurants.  The major pizza chain I used to work for tried it a couple of years ago.  They made a few employees work to see if it was worth the labor cost and would put more money in those higher up the food chain’s pockets.  Advertisements ran in drug stores - “In case you forgot the cranberry sauce, we’re open just for you.”  It was merely greed wrapped in a helpful apology for your forgetfulness.  “It’s not about the money.  It’s about helping you.”

We are always calling the kids.
While I understand hospitals, fire departments, and police stations having to remain open, I will never understand how materialistic we have become that our retail stores and food industry have to keep their registers open and their employees away from their family.  If one day of business, or just those four hours that remain part of Thanksgiving Day, are going to shut your company down, then you’re only delaying the inevitable.

One day.  Just one day.  I can handle the Christmas decorations being up in the stores in August, and I don’t mind people decorating their yards with lights once Halloween is over.  I’d do it, as well, if the girls would allow it.  The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays seem to mix well together for me.  However, I cannot understand the money hungry CEOs that cannot allow their employees to have one day to be thankful for their loved ones, one day to breathe and enjoy family without being pulled away to the daily grind.  That, to me, is an expression of ingratitude on a day we are to be grateful.

In the beginning, I wasn’t a big proponent of before the crack of dawn shopping.  To rise early just to fight crazy people for special deals seemed ludicrous to me.  However, when I was a supervisor for a paper drop, I was awake already, and so Char and I ventured out into the cold, black morning.  She wanted one of the Mickey Mouse snow globes J.C. Penny’s was giving away, which, by the way, this year they are not, which is just another reason to forego the madness in our eyes.  From J.C. Penny’s we would venture to Target, then we stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast, hit Wal-Mart and finished our tour of duty at Old Time Pottery.  We didn’t have a battle plan of what to buy as we weren’t really in the battle.  We were more the reporters bearing witness to the chaos and carnage.  We didn’t even know what great sales people were camping out for.  All we did was wander the aisles, picking up a shirt or gadget that caught our eye or something for the house we needed.  For us, a tradition had begun and we looked forward to it every year.

With Black Friday beginning on Thursday this year, that tradition is now dead, and I no longer want to play the retail game.  Thanksgiving Day, I don’t leave my home or family.  It’s the one day out of the year we devote entirely to ourselves in giving thanks to the gods that be for helping us make it another year.  The deals retailers are offering are not worth the sacrifice of that tradition and I will gladly pay a higher price for committing to a day of thanks.  I’ll also pay it at another store.  I’ll gladly shop at the stores that do not put their bottom line before their employees on this day of gratitude.  I will shop the mom and pop stores and support my local economy.  The big stores are taking away this one day of thanks, because they know we are greedy enough to follow them.  We will sacrifice our day with family to save a few bucks and the sad thing is when your family member lays dying all you will want is more time.  Don’t waste a minute of that limited resource to make rich people richer.  It is better to be more frugal with your family than with your money.
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