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Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

Yes, today is Black Friday. This is the day which many people here in the USA (and some other countries now, I hear) celebrate the official begining of the biggest shopping season of the year. There are many ways that people celebrate this day after the Thanksgiving holiday. Lots of them will camp out in front of stores in below-freezing weather in an attempt to be the first person to get in when the doors are opened. When admitted to the store, the swarm runs at full speed to various areas in an attempt to purchase one of the three 50 dollar televisions or reduced-price phones or tablets that are allotted to each location of whichever chain it represents. As the herd thunders toward the display of three low-cost items, fistfights break out, bodies are trampled, and people sometimes die or end up hospitalized. This is how many people demonstrate their holiday spirit and peace on earth and goodwill towards others. According to the website, since 2006 there have been 7 deaths and 98 injuries attributed to Black Friday. I believe that there is no bargain worth sacrificing a human life.

It isn't always this awful, and it hasn't been this way forever. Since about the 1930's the day after Thanksgiving has been considered the day that the major holiday shopping season begins. Merchants count on the income from this season to help keep their ledgers afloat for the year. When I worked in retail it was always incredibly busy, but I never recall seeing or hearing of any violence surrounding the purchasing of holiday gifts. 

Several years ago, I decided to go Black Friday shopping with my sister. We didn't find any of the fabulous deals we had seen advertised; they were gone long before sunrise. What we did find were throngs of people driving madly through the parking lots, nearly mowing people down in their desire to find a parking spot. We found many unhappy people treating everyone else poorly. We also found that there were plenty of people, including ourselves, who were behaving in a kind and civilized manner and not causing others any distress. I for one was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of shoppers and their hostility. I kept wanting to go home, crawl under the covers, and not come back out for a week or ten days. I exaggerate, of course, but I was miserable. A few years later, having forgotten the trauma, I went back for a second helping. I must say that I have definitely had my fill of that dish.

I have decided that I am going to celebrate the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday, in a more positive way. Maybe we can start a movement to change what Black Friday means. Here are a few suggested alternatives.

Black and White Movie Friday: There are so many wonderful old movies out there just waiting for you to watch them. There are holiday and non-holiday movies galore. I could name dozens, but I will try to practice some self-restraint. There's the original Miracle on 34th Street with Edmund Gwenn and Maureen O'Hara, or Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, A Christmas Carol with Reginald Owen, or It's a Wonderful Life with James Stewart and Donna Reed. Want something more dramatic? Try The Day the Earth Stood Still, Citizen Kane, Stage Door, or Penny Serenade. Musicals? There are dozens, with stars like Jeannette McDonald and Nelson Eddy, Fred and Ginger, Bing, Eleanor Powell...I think you get the idea.

Black Dress/Black Tie Friday: Dress up as though you're going somewhere special, because you are. You're going to your own table, maybe for leftovers, or takeout, or sandwiches. If you and those you love aren't worth dressing up for, who is? Enjoy the delight of getting dressed up just for fun. Wear slippers with your lovely dress or your French cuffs and special cufflinks. You're worth it, and it just might become a favorite tradition.

Black Ink Friday: Lounge around in your most comfortable clothes, whether that means pajamas or jeans or sweats or yoga pants. Make some hot cocoa or coffee/tea or a cold drink and enjoy a book. Your local library may have numerous e-books that you can check out at any time of day or night, even when you're wearing those jammies. Mine also has a massive collection of classics that are in the public domain which you can add to your personal library both free and permanently. There are also websites that offer free or low-cost books. They won't be best-sellers, of course, but you can find books from all areas of interest. I get daily emails from BookBub, BookLemur, and Robin Reads. All you need is a free Kindle or Nook application. There's also free books available through Google, Kindle, Nook, and others.

If you like the thrill of bargain-hunting, enjoy your Black Friday adventures. I hope that all of your fellow shoppers are as wonderful as I am sure that you are. But if it's just too much for you, like it is for me, consider extending your Thanksgiving holiday in a relaxed and enjoyable way. Happy Black Friday, everyone!


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