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Shop after giving? No thanks


Thanksgiving. Whenever I think of this holiday, immediately the image of a warm and jolly scene comes to mind. Friends and family sit around an enormous dining table enjoying a delicious feast. The sounds of merry conversation fill the air, broken by sporadic bursts of laughter. The atmosphere is rich with feelings of thanks. Thanks for all that we have, the one holiday where there is a break from thinking about what we want and focusing on enjoying what we already have.

Now, let’s fast forward to where the real smackdown happens: Black Friday. The day after we give thanks for what we have, we spend hours and hours frolicking in shops, buying frivolously and spending excessively. And we promise ourselves that the random shirt we got “on sale” for twenty five dollars won’t lie in the back of our shelves forever.

Though it should stand for the grieving of the honorable, charitable holiday it destroys, the “black” in Black Friday actually refers to retail profits, as in from January to November, retailers run at a financial loss, or “in the red,” but Black Friday marks the turning point for profits, “in the black.” It’s been almost a “rule” that stores couldn’t start advertising for the holidays until after Thanksgiving, and thus Black Friday became a way for businesses to make huge profits by starting off the holiday shopping season with cheap deals. Recently, Black Friday has seen a huge rise. In 2002, Black Friday officially became the busiest shopping day of the year in the US, and once 2011 marked the start of midnight openings, and life would never be the same.

I watch people line up at 10 p.m. for a store that opens at midnight, anticipating their deals in freezing temperatures. Suddenly, the clock strikes, and swarms of people rush in, clearly running for their lives. You know in The Hunger Games, how the competitors stand on their platforms waiting to attack the cornucopia (the pile of valuable stuff in the middle)? Now imagine that, except instead of the cornucopia, there is a mall, and the shopaholics gathered around, ready to enter. Then, increase the intensity by ten, and that’s what Black Friday shopping is. The shoppers’ weapons are out, their insults and sass talk sharp as knives, their jump dives for the last Ninja blender truer than Katniss’ arrow. Despite the tortuous proceedings, I too was once lured by the fame and fortune of Black Friday, until my moral compass got the better of me.

Beyond the animalistic qualities the dark day brings out in even the most courteous or shoppers, my question is this: shopping after Thanksgiving, does that even sound right? Because I would have never imagined the pilgrims jostling each other to get the newest Egyptian cotton petticoats on sale, or picking a fight over who was in line to the cobbler’s first. Shop after giving? No thanks.

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