For a lot of Americans, Thanksgiving isn’t so much about the good food and time off of work (hopefully. If not, sorry! I’ve been there). It’s really about the anticipation and build-up to what has become the main event: Black Friday.
Listen, if you love Black Friday, cool. If you love standing in long lines with family and friends, trampling down old ladies and biting children for the shiniest Xbox* in the store, and the thrill of feeling like you got a screaming deal, I can respect that.
But I have never, nor do I plan to ever, participate in Black Friday. Here’s why I prefer sleeping off my turkey hangover at home.
First of all, I live in a pretty small city. So it’s not a little town, but it’s no Chicago or New York. Generally, the traffic is on a spectrum from no-one-on-the-road to annoying-but-tolerable. But I have made the mistake of venturing out for some groceries on Black Friday before. And even in my small city, traffic is BACKED UP, y’all. I’m talkin’ cars stopped in intersections, further slowing traffic on the cross streets. No available parking spaces at any store, anywhere. Stop and go conditions, even on the side roads. No thank you.
This one really goes hand-in-hand with the traffic. As noted before, I once ventured out for groceries on Black Friday, reasoning that all the people were going to be in retail stores, not markets, and that no one but me needs groceries the day after Thanksgiving. WRONG. There was no pushing my cart down the aisles. Let me paint a picture for you: old, confused ladies comparing different types of rice in the middle of aisle three; overly taxed mothers wrangling sugared-up toddlers who are running under others’ cart wheels in aisle seven (bless their souls!); that one person who just lifted the wrong tomato in the pile of produce, sending the rest of them tumbling to the floor. No getting around that place whatsoever.
And once I finally obtained whatever it was I was looking for, the line at every. available. register. stretched clear up to Terre Haute (in the words of my favorite Christmas movie narrator).
Why deal with all of that? There’s a reason I didn’t move to a large city. Crowds aren’t for me.
OK, I realize that some stores do put things on a legitimately good sale on Black Friday. However, most items are not anywhere near as good a bargain as Big Marketing wants you to think they are. USA Today reported here that “very few customers are actually the beneficiaries of Black Friday deals,” meaning that those awesome “doorbusters” are actually in extremely short supply, and if you don’t get your hands on one (and you probably won’t), you’re not getting a deal at all. And, it’s been proven time and again that the prices on everything else in the store are probably actually higher than at other times of the year.
I’m just plain old fed up with typical American consumerism. I refuse to buy into the idea that my family needs Christmas presents piled as high as the ceiling, or that we need to buy for everyone in our extended family to express our love for them, or that we need the latest electronics/toys/home decorations/etc. I did buy into that for awhile, and of course I do have wants. But the crazed pushing and shoving (over a tickle-me-Elmo for goodness’ sake) is not okay with me. I won’t add to it or take part in it in any way.
In short, I think that the intent behind Black Friday, which is to buy as much crap as possible, as fast as possible, with as few dollars as possible, is just not for me. I prefer to be careful and thoughtful with my purchases. I prefer to spend money on experiences rather than things. And I prefer to pare my Christmas celebrations down to enjoying my family’s company and a nice meal. So I won’t be participating in Black Friday this year, or any year (probably. I also never say never).
What about you? Do you line up at the mall doors on Black Friday (or Thursday)?