This year Black Friday, the traditional start to the Christmas shopping season that falls after Thanksgiving, is getting a lot of attention for the fact that it is no longer confined to Friday. Rather, it has crept into the evening of Thanksgiving and, therefore, the employees of these retailers are forced to forego an evening spent with family.
Workers and concerned citizens, e.g. referred to as guests by retailers or shoppers by the rest of humanity, have started petitions asking for the encroachment into the Thanksgiving holiday to cease. We already shop too much in the United States, so what’s the problem with spending some time away from the retail scene?
At least WalMart’s employees are using the attention afforded to retailers on Black Friday to potentially disrupt the narrative about consumerism and turn it towards the plight of workers.
For me, however, Black Friday means something else entirely. It’s the beginning of my traditional siesta from shopping. From now until after the New Year I will spend little or no time shopping for gifts or what not. Why? Because the status quo is insane.
I remember when holiday shopping was fun. Maybe it was because I was a kid, but I loved the mall at Christmas time. The decorations, the bizarre Santa Claus throne, the music…it was wonderful. Sometime during college, probably during my stint working at a big box electronics retailer that shall remain nameless, I noticed the craziness of the holidays. I remember watching people almost furiously filling carts with shrink wrapped items as if it were preparation for an upcoming superstorm. It really turned me off of the holidays.
As the years have passed, opting out of the shopping hysteria just became second nature. My wife and I have not exchanged gifts during the holidays, which conveniently also take place during the time when both of our birthdays fall on the calendar, for over a decade. For our children, I take the holiday season as an opportunity to spend a good deal of time in the woodshop to build them a gift. Last year it was a play table. This year it is going to be a pair of bookcases that look like castles.
It just seems like a better way.