Forget about “The dingo ate your baby.” Black Friday is eating your Thanksgiving turkey.
Thanksgiving has always had an unhealthy (and lord knows unsustainable) emphasis on consumption. But there has always been, along with the gobbling, a shot at some creative ritual, an element of mindfulness, rising to the occasion with heartfelt toasts.
Sure, the next day the women would sally forth to stores before reconvening for leftovers. But judging from stories in the press, including a slab of ads that outweighed the paper itself on Friday morning by a factor of five to one, what was a fun footnote has in recent years threatened to become the main event, the consumption of the big meal just a preamble to the real consumption.
The last couple of years Black Friday has begun encroaching on Thursday, turning the late hours of that day traditionally spent in lounging and digestion, black too.
We get stories of determined shoppers spending most of Thursday positioning themselves for Friday, renting rooms near stores to get the jump on the competition, packing pepper spray and guns to give themselves an edge in the shopping wars.
Not content to nibble away at Thanskgiving, some stores have apparently begun to surround it by opening on Thanksgiving morning, forcing employees to work on this traditional family holiday. (At least our own state enforces a modicum of respect by prohibiting stores from opening on Thursday.)
I’m glad to learn from a story in this paper that Black Friday is getting some pushback. There is competition from Small Business Saturday. Advocates of the traditional holiday are boycotting the stores desecrating the traditional holiday by conducting business-as-usual on that day.
I know that “black” is supposed to be a good word in this context—stores make money, shoppers have fun, what’s not to like? But it has an ominous sound nonetheless. Whatever’s being gained in the shopping frenzy seems not worth the loss.