I wrote the following in 2010, and sadly it is still relevant. If you are one of the avid Black Friday shoppers, I apologize if this upsets you. It is meant as social commentary, not a personal slam.
I remember a time when shopping the day after Thanksgiving was fun. A lot of people were doing the same thing, but there was no pushing, no shouting, no mad rush to get the latest must-have toy, and nobody grabbing it out of your hands once you had it.
For the most part, everyone was relaxed and in a Holiday mood. Smiles were exchanged and clerks and cashiers wished everyone a Happy Holiday. It always made me think of the wonderful Christmas song, “Silver Bells”, and I could imagine we’d entered some magical place where people passed “meeting smile after smile. And on every street corner you’ll hear…”
It was also a time when stores opened at a normal time, and people came and went, then more people came and went. Stores did not open at some ungodly hour in the AM, so shoppers had to set alarms to get there on time. Folks also didn’t camp out in parking lots and on sidewalks for days to be the first ones in. And they didn’t stampede into a store and injure other people in their desperation need to make sure they got the best deals offered.
For most of this past week, we were bombarded with reminders of this all important retail day. The media made a big deal out of Black Friday, airing what I’m sure they thought were cute human-interest stories about what people were doing to prepare. Plus there were all the ads from department stores, and it seemed like they were competing to see who could open the earliest. Some were even open on Thanksgiving and just stayed open all night and into today.
Watching this all unfold, I realized that Thanksgiving is getting lost. Think of all the retail personnel who were not able to truly celebrate the day because they had to get ready for The Big Day. And what about all the people who opted out of getting together with family at all because they preferred to be the first in line at Best Buy. One local man was interviewed on television and said, “Sorry, Grandma, we’re not coming for Thanksgiving.”
He laughed. The news anchors laughed. But I wanted to call up Grandma and tell her how sorry I was that her family preferred the X-Box over her.
What about you? Do you think society has taken the holidays way too far into the retail arena?