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Repost on Black Friday: Have at me

This post was originally published on November 19, 2009.  It has been re-posted for your shopping enjoyment.

Okay, I’ve been putting this off, posting pieces about my new exercise challenge, and the inspiration I received for writing a book, and, well, anything else but this topic.

If you know me well, then you already know my opinion on this.

Ok, here goes.

I am completely not down with Black Friday.

And, to go a step further, I don’t think you should be either.

Yes, I am an American.

Just stop reading right here if you can’t handle the heat.

You say you want to save money and get the best deals for Christmas?

You say it’s fun?

You say, “Hey, you’re just a kill-joy. Black Friday is an American Tradition. Like Flag Day.”

To you I say:

I understand deals. I’m a complete deal seeker. I just don’t feel like waking up at 3 AM and fighting traffic and circling a parking lot to find a space only to stand in line with like a trillion other people, who, let’s be honest, could care less about my well being and more about whether they’ll get to the electronics/toy/whatever department before me (even if they have to trip me), just to save money.

Here’s an idea: How about simplifying Christmas by buying less – maybe one or two really nice gifts for your children, the total of which equals the amount you wind up spending on a mountain of meaningless toys, for which you had to risk life and limb and valuable time. Precious time which could have been shared with your kids and your family, and friends, by, say, playing games or watching a movie, or baking, or decorating for Christmas, rather than entering into a full on sprint against total strangers in order to reach the toy department first to grab a toy that will end up irritating you within 5 minutes of the batteries being installed. Can you say Tickle Me Elmo?

No, you be quiet! I told you up front that I am not down with Black Friday, so what did you expect to read here?

You say Black Friday is fun? Yeah, it sounds like a blast.

I’m a negative Nelly? Well, Sherlock, I’ll have you know that the original term Black Friday was never a particularly positive title, but, in fact, made reference to some pretty darn tootin’ icky days in history. Google it. And the phrase as we know it today, was actually used by newspapers back in the ’70’s, to describe the extreme hecticness that stores experienced the day after Thanksgiving.

So let me get this straight. Historically, Black Friday was never a good thing. And when newspapers began deeming the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday, it wasn’t initially a compliment, but rather, a phrase used to describe a commonality between the crowds and the traffic and the sheer craziness of the beginning of the holiday shopping season, with, well, dark historical events.

However, since being in the “black” is a necessity for retailers, they have now hijacked the term, and thus, Black Friday now pays homage to the buying frenzy that will drive retailer’s books into the “black”.

Well, I’m not bowing to Black Friday.

In fact, and this will make you sick, the “big” presents that my children receive for Christmas (they get a main, or “big” gift from both sets of grandparents and then we supplement with a few other items) have already been purchased, at full price, from a local independently owned toy store, and are resting peacefully in my attic. The owner even helped me carry my bags to the car.

And no one tripped me or slipped a mickey in my coffee, so they could beat me to the Playmobile Egyptian Pyramid. Nope. I pre-ordered it. Months ago.

I realize I’m a bit over the top, but so is Black Friday.

If you are going to participate, let me share with you these words from Sergeant Phil Esterhaus of Hill Street Blues: Hey, let’s be careful out there.

And when you come to your senses and realize that I am using this statement in reference to SHOPPING, perhaps you’ll join me in on my soapbox.

I’ll make room for you.

While pondering your plans for November 27th, check this out.

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13 responses »

  1. I'm still just baffled by the level of defensiveness in this post. I don't find your opinions about Black Friday or Christmas shopping offensive at all, and I'm not even totally in agreement – I'm not completely opposed to going out and grabbing a good deal the day after Thanksgiving, though I'm way too lazy to get out of bed before 9am to do it. The way you frame your opinions with the assumption that the reader is going to hate you for them though makes it hard to hear your thoughtfulness and your good suggestions about holiday gifts. But don't get me started about retailers that make their employees work on Thanksgiving Day….

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  2. Jason, all I can say is that my strong opinion about Black Friday is indeed quite unpopular, so, I chose to have a little fun with it by writing this last year.Can't wait to re-post my "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holiday" rant.

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  3. I can't recall whether I commented last year, but I agree with Jason. I also avoid stores on Black Friday, just because I dislike crowds ( I shop online on cyber-Monday) but I'm not sure I get why you seem to want to convince other people to avoid it too. The post reads a little like you're suggesting that there is something wrong with people who choose to shop –or actually enjoy shopping(they exist)–on Black Friday. That may be where the unpopularity comes in.I agree with you that people may be better off downsizing holiday gift buying but that seems to be a completely different point. People can buy small and responsibly on Black Friday and can overinduldge shopping at local toy stores at full price. Acting the fool and being physical is also a valid but different point, as many people enjoy Black Friday without any problems. I recall agreeing with your happy holiday post.

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  4. It's interesting to read comments from this year compared to comments left last year on this same post – albeit different people, and thus, different opinions.Mine hasn't changed. I think my "defensiveness" and what comes across as chastising, is due to hearing people talk a good talk about not making the purchasing of presents, or having to have THE item of the year, the focus of the holiday season, and yet, ultimately the frenzy still occurs.I have only participated in Black Friday once in my adult life – during which, I found people to be frightening.So, yeah, I don't like it. I'm not sure I'm trying to convince anyone not to shop on that day as much as I'm just sharing my "over the top" opinion that I find it ridiculous.

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  5. I've been thinking about this a lot since I read it last night. I remember this post from last year and I completely agree with you. (I may even have commented to say so, who knows?) Both times I read it, I didn't feel as though you were overly defensive, so I was surprised to read the others did.And it's not the Black Friday-thing that I've been thinking about, but the reactions to what you wrote. As a holder of quite a few strong opinions myself, I find that people seem to be becoming less and less comfortable with strong opinions in general. Because to hold a strong opinion is to imply that there is a right and a wrong about something. And people don't like to be told they're wrong… or even to have it implied that they're wrong. I believe that this is one of the reasons why we have lost the ability to have civil debate. To have someone disagree with one's opinion is seen to be saying something about the person rather than the idea. The belief that people can hold disparate opinions and still hold each other in respect doesn't seem to exist anymore. Wow. Bet you didn't think a arguement about rampant consumerism would lead to this, did you? :-)e

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  6. I have only participated in Black Friday once with my oldest daughter. She was the prime force behind doing so. (She REALLY wanted to experience it.)We were shocked by the waves and waves of people….and never did it again.Most Christmases, this year being an exception, I am usually finished shopping by this point so don't consider going out ANYWAY. I find deals throughout the YEAR. I do the "Target Shuffle" and watch their clearance items reduce week after week and snag them when they are what I consider "a deal". If they are GONE, then I didn't miss anything because I weigh the cost to loss factor in advance. :)Working full-time this past year has provided less opportunities to find deals but I am STILL not participating in an event that often causes people to overextend their budget and sometimes pay off Christmas through February. Not to mention the potential for rude, selfish people who can't say "excuse me" when they accidently elbow you…. I cannot handle THAT! We are generally "cash on the barrel" type of people and we shop for 25 people (and that is WITH name drawings!) If we can do it without credit and without doing Black Friday, ANYONE can do it!I think what is perceived as "defensiveness" is a strong opinion with a basis in the expected fight. As a nation, we are less focused on TIME and FAMILY and often more focused on the gift.Our family is once again ringing the bell for Salvation Army. It is a fun way to give back…and make memories together as a family. Did you know that most Salvation Army "bell ringers" are PAID? They can't get enough volunteers to man the red kettles. How much MORE money would go to the Salvation Army if more people donated their time for a few hours. CONSIDER CALLING YOUR LOCAL SALVATION ARMY AND ASK IF YOU CAN DO IT. I THINK YOU'LL ENJOY IT!

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  7. I have only participated in Black Friday once with my oldest daughter. She was the prime force behind doing so. (She REALLY wanted to experience it.)We were shocked by the waves and waves of people….and never did it again.Most Christmases, this year being an exception, I am usually finished shopping by this point so don't consider going out ANYWAY. I find deals throughout the YEAR. I do the "Target Shuffle" and watch their clearance items reduce week after week and snag them when they are what I consider "a deal". If they are GONE, then I didn't miss anything because I weigh the cost to loss factor in advance. :)Working full-time this past year has provided less opportunities to find deals but I am STILL not participating in an event that often causes people to overextend their budget and sometimes pay off Christmas through February. We are generally "cash on the barrel" type of people and we shop for 25 people (and that is WITH name drawings!) If we can do it without credit and without doing Black Friday, ANYONE can do it!I think what is perceived as "defensiveness" is a strong opinion with a basis in the expected fight. As a nation, we are less focused on TIME and FAMILY and often more focused on the gift.Our family is once again ringing the bell for Salvation Army. It is a fun way to give back…and make memories together as a family. Did you know that most Salvation Army "bell ringers" are PAID? They can't get enough volunteers to man the red kettles. Home much MORE money would go to the Salvation Army if more donated their time for a few hours. CONSIDER CALLING YOUR LOCAL SALVATION ARMY AND ASK IF YOU CAN DO IT. I THINK YOU'LL ENJOY IT!

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  8. I love spending time with family, relaxing, eating leftovers and NOT thinking about shopping on Black Friday – or any day for that matter!I feel bad for the people who have to work those days, and therefore spend holiday thinking about working and not relaxing.

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  9. Regarding E's comments – I have no problem with a person having a strong opinion, and even telling me they think I'm wrong. I think I misspoke about what turns me off in this blog entry – it's not the defensiveness, it's the opposite (I don't want to use term "offensiveness", but can't come up with a better term) – it's being slapped in the face with commands like "no, you be quiet" and "stop reading if you can't handle the heat" and the sarcasm of "well Sherlock I'll have you know…".The opinion in this article isn't stated strongly, it's stated nastily. This isn't an invitation to "civil debate", or a tone that "holds others in respect". Now I know the blogger and I believe her when she says she "chose to have a little fun" in the way she wrote this, and that really she is a person that values other people's opinions and is capable of civil debate. But as I said before, the good thoughtful points don't get across well when they're surrounded by such uncivil remarks.

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  10. I read here often and comment rarely. I think Jason's second comment makes a good point though. Recently you blogged about being respectful and civil in political debate, and having someone with an opposing political viewpoint hold you accountable to that. I think stating your strong opinions on Black Friday strongly but still civilly and respectfully might go along way for those you are trying to convince. But I had a friend in high school who ALWAYS expressed his opinions in a belligerent, in-your-face sort of manner, because he said some people don't listen any other way. That may be true. And I appreciate that you do not often do that, even when you do hold an opinion very strongly.

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  11. @Karen,I hear you. I find this post to be quite different than the political one because there I was speaking about be respectful to SPECIFIC persons. Named persons. Not spreading lies and rumors and gossip. Here, I was simply conveying my thoughts in a general way. The outcome, however, was that it came out as a monologue, or rather, a dialogue.I wasn't addressing anyone specifically – which is why I see this post differently.And, frankly, I just have such a HUGE, gosh-darn, no apologies, problem with Black Friday. So, if anything, it was the style of writing that came across to many has "uncivil", and yet, didn't to others.As one person shared with me (they emailed me privately), this post doesn't come anywhere near other "uncivil" posts on the internet. "It was actually quite mild in comparison."It's interesting that this is the first post where I've "bit" a bit, and received quite a response to it – both negative and postive. One never knows.Good to hear from you again!

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  12. Please don't take this the wrong way; I don't mean to insult or offend you or your emailer…but I don't think the comparison card is valid in most cases. I could post something really ugly, unkind, rude, and offensive on my blog…and still not be "as bad in comparison" to much of what is posted on the Internet. Again, I'm not attacking you or the emailer here…just sayin'. I would say that Black Friday fans (and no, I'm not actually one of them…I don't like it, and I choose to stay home myself) are still people and are still your "neighbor." I will also echo a previous poster's comment that one could shop Black Friday sales and have a very low-key, simple holiday with very few gifts. And one could shop only small local businesses, paying full price, and still go overboard, overextend their budget, and play into the greedy consumerism of their family members. It isn't either/or.But if you want to be REALLY unpopular, you could go the route of a friend of mine. He skips celebrating Christmas altogether. He maintains that for himself and his household (which includes his wife and five children) there will be no tree, no decorations, no presents (yes, NO presents), no nothing. And he posts this frequently throughout the season on Facebook. Imagine the responses of his FB friends to THAT. πŸ˜‰ Yes, he's a Christian, and he says he will celebrate the birth of Christ, but it ends there. None of the other stuff. Now I promise I will go back to silent reader now. πŸ™‚ (Although I do remember your happy holidays post from last year. You don't know how close I came to asking permission to link to it on my blog!)

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  13. Karen, great comments. I'm glad you posted. I think I just don't see it the same way because I truly didn't even have a "neighbor" in mind and heart when I wrote the piece last year. What is so funny, however, is that I have received SOOO much feedback on this ONE post (here, facebook, emails)from some who found it funny (I think the were the one's who could actually visualize my performing it as a monologue and could see the actual delivery as entertaining), some who found it uncivil or disrespectful, some who agreed, and some, who simply found it to be stating my own opinion and then stopped giving it any more thought.I don't think I've ever gotten as many comments EVER. Same thing happens at PittsburghMOM. Post something which could be controversial and the comments roll in.And sometimes, as a writer, I do so on purpose . . . πŸ˜‰ Ain't gonna lie.BTW, the happy holiday's post will be reposted next week, and you may link to your blog – of course.Please don't be silent!!!!! πŸ™‚

    Reply

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