Does it strike anyone else as sadly ironic that Thanksgiving should be followed by the misanthropic homage to greed known as “Black Friday”? The one day set aside to give thanks for all the blessings bestowed on us is immediately followed by a day when we are willing to give up everything, sometimes even our lives, for more, more, more.
Supposedly, that unholiday is meant for buying gifts for others, which seems honorable enough. But that’s not really it, is it? It’s about attempting to hold onto our money, although we end up parting with more of it than we planned. There’s something uniquely depraved about people waiting in line all night to save a few bucks on the latest trinket that’s tomorrow’s landfill fodder.
Make no mistake, this day is not about giving gifts. It’s about paying as little as possible for said presents. It’s about making our largesse as small as possible. (It’s the thought that counts.) It’s a testament to how little we value our time and, by corollary, our lives. More to the point, it’s about extracting the maximum amount of money from the consumer.
Most tragic, it works. The avaricious mass marketers have underestimated the avarice of the average consumer. They’ve given us the ability to trade our lives for a pittance and we caved. We bought in. We’ve conformed. (To my Christian friends: See Romans 12:2 – “don’t be conformed…”.) There seems to be no end to what we’ll lay down at the altar of crappy merchandise.
It’s a testament to the American psyche that Black Friday came about organically, while Thanksgiving had to be proclaimed from on high. BF remains an organic, growing, cancerous thing, kind of like The Blob (tag line: “It eats you alive”… just like Black Friday). Too, over the years, it has been gradually but inexorably infringing on Thanksgiving’s territory. Virtually all the major chains will be opening on Thanksgiving Day, some as early at 6 AM.
It’s just a matter of time before it’s Black Thursday and Friday with no room for gratitude.
Here’s a crazy thought: Take the amount of time you would have wasted waiting in line, getting shoved around by
your competitors, er, fellow consumers, and queued in interminable lines of crabby customers at the checkout (as pleasurable as those activities are) and spend that much time with the planned recipient of the gift. Buying them lunch and conversing with them for a while would cost next to nothing yet mean next to everything.
This isn’t the first time I’ve opined (or whined, depending on your perspective) on this topic. Avoiding chains and making Christmas a time of true giving have been previous topics of these posts. I’m no less committed to those ideals this year. If anything, I’m more militant than ever.
The only way you’ll get me to shut up is to spend more time and less cash with the ones you love. And if you’re gonna spend cash, spend it at a locally owned small business.
In the meantime, meditate on this…