Some of the magic of the Black Friday sales extravaganza escapes me, I must admit.
I understand why the retailers do it. A large percentage of the work force is off work, and the businesses want them to spend money while they’re relaxing.
Also, it provides a considerable amount of part-time work for desperately unemployed or underemployed workers who have to handle the additional influx of customers.
However, I’ve never succumbed to the mad dash to invade the stores the day after Thanksgiving or any other holiday to take advantage of markdowns.
For people who can find bargains in these tough times, more power to you. Far be it from me to begrudge anyone a bargain.
I don’t see the need to do it just to be a part of the tradition, a part of the culture.
Even that mad, mad materialist of the North Pole, one S. Claus by name, takes a break and drinks a Coke once in a while. At least, that what the advertisements of my youth told me. These days, Santa shares his Coke with the friendly polar bears in the area.
My late uncle, who was an outdoorsman and all-around handyman, would take advantage of these holiday times to go to Big Lots and see if that store had anything he needed.
Frankly, I think he just needed to get the heck out of the house lest he be buried beneath all that family frivolity.
The sight of elbow-to-elbow shoppers pushing and shoving each other out of the way so they can get a bra at half-price is a capitalistic caricature of the past. It became so cliché that numerous television sitcoms had at least one scene, sometimes entire episodes, dedicated to bargain basement sales and the wacky housewives who love them.
It has been replaced, to a degree, by the neurotic rush from store to store to find the kids’ latest toy craze before the shelves are stripped bare.
To an even greater degree, it has been replaced by the lines of first adopters hoping to get their hands on the latest version of a digital gizmo, such as an iPad or iPod.
There is a delicious irony in witnessing people lined up around the block, some camping out, to be the first to get the next piece of technological wizardry available. They could have done the digitally correct thing by ordering it online and waiting for it to arrive. Instead, they did it the old-fashioned, shoe-leather way by hoofing it down to the store.
And the stores are opening earlier to accommodate them. This year, Sears, Walmart, Target, Kmart and Toys R Us are all opening at 8 p.m. Thursday. That’s earlier than last year’s Black Friday openings for most retailers, and some Target employees complain that it will cut into their turkey time.
Thanksgiving used to be a time when we were thankful for what we had rather than trying to acquire more of it.