OPINION: Black-Eye Friday
So much for Thanksgiving.
After years spent hanging prematurely-placed Christmas decorations in their windows and blaring holiday-themed music in October, retailers have finally gone too far.
Black Friday, the most revered and sacred day of the shopping season, just took a bite out of Thanksgiving. This year, instead of holding midnight sales to maximize their “Friday” foot traffic, multiple retailers instead began holding mega-discounts at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving evening.
Santa Claus just gave the family turkey a black eye.
In a perfect world, Thanksgiving is a joyful time to gather with friends and family. Picturesque meals are prepared from scratch, blessings are counted, and everyone is on time. Oh, and lots of sweaters are worn.
Reality of course usually involves long-simmering family disputes, partially thawed turkey, and multiple calls for the first-aid kit. But beyond the mysterious casseroles and half-cooked pumpkin pie, most families manage to carve out at least a tiny slice of the American dream on that special day.
The post-Thanksgiving shopping rush itself can be a fun family affair, and until recently was kept from encroaching on the holiday itself. But in 2011, Wal-Mart began holding “door buster” sales at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving evening, and this year represents the first widespread retail assault on a day normally reserved for food and friends.
The term “Black Friday” may have been coined in late 1960s Philadelphia by police officers, who despised the long lines and traffic jams brought on by the start of the Christmas shopping season. More recently, Black Friday super-sales have become a breeding ground for bad manners and sharp elbows, with store employees occasionally getting trampled by over-aggressive shoppers.
Bargain-hunting is a great American pastime, but it seems retailers now won’t even wait for the turkey to cool off before kicking off their holiday shopping bonanzas.
If the current trend continues (and it most certainly will), the entire Thanksgiving holiday will soon become a full-contact shopping match. So long turkey, hello discount-televisions.
Saving our holiday traditions is going to take some serious guts and creativity.
Next Thanksgiving, when family members start checking their cell phones to see what deals are coming, just start serving lots of food and drink. Quickly. Who cares if it’s nine o’clock in the morning? Nothing sucks the wind out of a would-be bargain hunter like a belly full of beer and bratwurst.
And if your family must get in on the shopping madness, just remind them they can have their PlayStations and eat their pie too. Some of the best deals in the world are now found online. Turn on the Wi-Fi, serve up some bacon-stuffed mushrooms, and let the whole family shop the evening away.
The next morning, stay home and eat some leftovers with loved ones. No Blu-Ray player is worth a black eye. Let Santa wait a few hours.