I originally planned to have this post published the day of Thanksgiving or the day after but when you’re at home having a good time with family things tend to fall through. And there were some unexpected changes in how Black Friday played out. National news reported lower consumer turnouts for Black Friday shopping. I was shocked.
As to why I was shocked. Black Friday seems to be a big “holiday” in American culture and its importance trumps (no pun intended) Thanksgiving itself in so many ways. Thanksgiving is about celebrating everything you have, the first Pilgrims, and the fall harvest while Black Friday celebrates the consumerism that is American culture. I have never understood why Thanksgiving and Black Friday go hand-in-hand and why people cannot be content with what they have on Thanksgiving. I find it so contradictory. I guess that the chunk of American society that participates consistently in Black Friday are only thankful for what they have until 3pm on Thanksgiving. Then it’s consumer gorging time.
Obviously I think that Black Friday is contradictory to Thanksgiving and when the are used in the same sentence, an oxymoron. But what I find most disheartening about Black Friday is how society is such a slave to the post-Thanksgiving phenomena. We either participate in the gross consumerism, are ask if we have participated, or are asked to work on Thanksgiving in preparation for Black Friday. I find it disheartening that our society has come to the conclusion that Black Friday is the ultimate consumerism holiday. Than we take people away from their families during a time when we should be spending time with our families and being thankful for them. We really should be ashamed as a society.
As for me, when Black Friday comes around I am tired of being asked if I went shopping instead of being asked how was my Thanksgiving (truly, I’ve been asked this almost every day since Friday). I am always taken aback when I am asked this. Have people really forgotten about Thanksgiving? Do they really care more about Black Friday than about Thanksgiving? Well, I guess they are a slave to mega consumerism. But its even more shocking the responses I receive after telling people that I did not go shopping on Black Friday. I just get the silence treatment and stares. Yes, shocked stares. So, what do I tell people when they ask me the Black Friday question? I don’t believe in Black Friday, the values it promotes (greed), the message it is sending to society, and I don’t believe that people should be forced to work on Thanksgiving or the day after. And Black Friday simply demonstrates that people are never thankful for what they already have. For some reason this answer sends people into silence. I hope it’s contemplative silence and their reflections on what Black Friday is promoting. Some ask me if I ever want to participate in Black Friday because of the deals. My answer, “No”. I much rather give the money to someone in need. And my birthday is a month and a half before Christmas. I don’t need anything between my birthday and Christmas, so save the money and help someone who needs it. But then there are others who are probably thinking, “My, god, she doesn’t participate in Black Friday!? How unAmerican!” Well, I’ll never be American enough for that lot of people. So, I ignore those uber American patriots who believe they are more ‘American’ than anyone else.
But this year on Black Friday there was change so great in annual Black Friday celebrations that it caught the attention of the media. Less people showed up to participate in Black Friday. I thought I would never see the day. Looks like U.S. society will, hopefully, come to a day when going to Wall-Mart on Black Friday is no longer a self inflicted death wish. So, caused the great change in Black Friday turnout? According to the media, Cyber Monday, finding better deals on the web, and stores having a longer sale period following up to Thanksgiving. I wonder if this will hold for next year and if it does, it looks like this country will be on it’s way to finding the true meaning of Thanksgiving.