The day after Thanksgiving in 2005, I nipped into a gourmet candy store to buy a hostess gift. I was a Black Friday innocent, and I was discombobulated by the crowd.
Since then, I’ve avoided shopping on Black Friday.
Black Friday is relentless. This week, during the two-day, five-hour finale of Dancing with the Stars, dance routines were interspersed with loud ads for stores that opened as early as 5 p.m. on Thursday.
It used to be nice, if boring, to know nothing was open on Thanksgiving. When I was a child, we read quietly in the morning (I remember reading Julia Cunningham’s Dorp Dead one year), then zoomed across town to Grandmother’s house for dinner. The guys watched football. The girls did girl things.
There was no dashing off to Penney’s or Wal-Mart.
As adults, we’ve had many quiet Thanksgivings, and a few chaotic big family holidays. But it’s usually low-key, and I read an amusing book like Valley of the Dolls while the dinner cooks.
This year, however, it was 12 degrees, with snow on the ground. We all have colds, and we were trapped indoors.
Perhaps that’s why people shop.
It’s not that I’m a stranger to sales. My mother used to take me to sales the day after Christmas (or was it New Year’s Day?). We’d line up in front of Seiffert’s, which opened at the usual 9 a.m., when dozens of women would rush inside to rifle through the racks.
A sale at Seiffert’s was just a sale. There is always violence on Black Friday.
There’s so much hype about holidays. If you are lucky, they are pleasant. If you are unlucky, they are nasty and distressing.
But Black Friday is Too Much.
I can’t remember when I first heard of Black Friday. I really think it cannot have been before 2001 because in that year Jim, I, and Izzy went to Paris for 2 weeks starting 2 days before Xmas. It was to escape this place during Xmas and try to break a pattern of misery. We succeeded and even had a good time during that two weeks, especially Xmas day when all Paris is open and we had a French meal with what we were told was French Xmas cake.
So let’s say 2002 or 2003. But when I was told I was also told it had been going on for quite a while. I could hardly believe it: why would people rush out to be part of mobs, in crowds, to junk stores? Since then I’ve learned that there are what’s called stupendous bargains for things some people want very badly — and they want them cheap. This year or last the stores opened on Thursday, sometime in the evening. I said to a woman who was inveighing against this, well in this case no one is forcing anyone to go. If no one showed up at 10 pm, they’d stop opening the doors and she looked irritated at me. Her family members or friends are helpless? she’s not allowed to blame them?
And now we’re told it’s spreading to the UK and they don’t even have the day before. Like a museum shop without a museum.
Why black I asked someone? but answer came there none.
Ellen, Christmas in Paris sounds perfect!
Black Friday means “in the black.” The stores have a chance to get rid of their merchandise and break even or make a profit. No idea when it started. Surely I was watching some TV a decade ago, but somehow I had missed the ads and skipped over newspaper stories about the crowds.
I do think a day or two off shopping is for the best, and object to the idea of people going out on Thanksgiving. If people want to go out at midnight on Friday, well, let them,though it seems quite stupid, but it seems so empty…
It *is* spreading to the UK and things were quite nasty over here I’ve heard. Mind you, our Asda is owned by Walmart so I guess they want to maximise the profits over here as well. All this rampant commercialism is hideous.
Karen, I did read about Black Friday in the UK, and thought, How horrible. People get too excited, and there’s pushing, and people get hurt, and I’m sorry to hear this is now happening in the UK, too. The concept is defective. It defeats the whole purpose of the holidays!
We have Black Friday in Canada now, even though our Thanksgiving takes place in October. Retailers here feel pressured to have an equivalent to the sales going on across the border. Black Friday is called Vendredi Fou in Quebec, which makes sense, because it really is crazy.
Liz, I agree with the French name! It is crazy.
Too bad the shopping custom has to spread like this. Some people protest against the consumerism, but I don’t think they have much effect (you never know).
Is it an American custom? I didn’t even know it was Black Friday until I went into a department store to buy a Christmas tree (UK) and I thought the world had gone mad with Black Friday sales. Remind me not to go shopping this time next year!
Yes, it is one of those Merry Capitalism things that the world would be better off without! Except–you can get any book for 30 percent off at Amazon.:)