America is excited. Black Friday arrived. Bargains were numerous as lilies in the spring. This was the best Black Friday ever! Sales are up 6.6 percent over last year, the greatest jump since....blah blah blah.
Those who may not know, Black Friday is the shopping day after Thanksgiving. I was curious about how in the world Black Friday really got started. Several sources said it started because of the myth of the day after Thanksgiving being the biggest shopping day of the year. That wasn't the case, according to several sources. The last Saturday before Christmas usually held that position, for some reason.
Black Friday gained it first fame because it was a big shopping down and a traffic nightmare. These were in the day before malls, superstores and online shopping, back even before shopping centers really gained, back in a time called the sixties. The Wikipedia article said the first reference to Black Friday came in a 1966 Philadelphia newspaper article. Cops and bus drivers called it Black Friday because of the heavy traffic problems it caused.
Later myths were Black Friday was so named because of profit, either because it was the one day stores make money or the season of profit's beginning, the season being the 4th quarter because it coincided with the holiday season. That was once the triumvirate of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. Chanukkah was added and Kwanzaa. Then pagans recognized Winter Solstice so it's gaining traction as another holiday, another opportunity for a party, recipes, greeting cards and gifts. 'Christmas' was then replaced in the triumvirate as 'the Holiday season'. There's a lot of arguing about the change, and some belligerantly yell, "Merry Christmas," because they don't want their holiday usurped by others. Many argue, too, whether consumerism and secularism have destroyed the holiday's holiness, but I don't see it. People are still putting up Christmas trees, piling them under the tree, and tearing them open on Christmas morning or the night before, depending upon family tradition, and they're singing the same songs they have for the last fifty years, so how has it changed?
I'm surprised now that this Black Friday shopping is considered a tradition by some. Stores, malls and shopping centers 'extend their shopping hours'. Door buster bargains ensued we had stories of violence and chaos, another new tradition. Some stores opened at midnight but others pushed the envelope and opened on Thursday at 9 or 10 PM, giving rise to another phrase, Black Thursday. Given all the impetus of coordinated marketing campaigns and the urge to buy and make money, Black Friday the myth has become Black Friday the truth, the biggest shopping day of the year.
My friend, Pam, works for the city. She worked at her usual job on Black Friday but it was a quiet day, without many employees present, a good day to get things done. A co-worker, slumped over her desk, a coffee cup in her hand, mentioned to Pam how tired she was. She was working because she didn't want to burn a day off, but she had shopped on Black Friday before coming to work. She told of first going with her sisters to stores, coming back and going back out with her oldest children, repeating the excursion with her husband, and finally, taking her youngest child shopping last that morning, at 6 AM. After that, she had breakfast, changed clothes and went to work.
I didn't go shopping on Black Friday. I never have, being cursed, as a shopper, with a weak shopping libido. Some claim it's because I'm male but I think that's sexist. (I will admit that no male friend has ever called me up and asked me to go shopping with them, though.) My wife and I did our quasi usual routine of grocery shopping at Costco on bland Saturday. It was a great experience. Parking was plentiful and fellow shoppers were sparse. Everyone was in a cheery mood.
We've been eyeing two products for this holiday season, both at my wife's instigation, a wii and a GPS unit for the car. She always refered to the GPS device as Garmins until recently, when she realized there were other brands. She always asked, "Do you want to buy a Garmin?" She means, "Do you want to buy a GPS device for the car?" She corrected it this week as Costco had five models from four manufacturers available.
Her first question was, "How much could they cost, since they're giving us a $55 discount?" The answer was roughly from $169 to $399. The differences between them baffled us. Why were there so many and why the wide range of costs? Research will be required before we buy. One thing that soon became clear and common among them was 'lifetime map updates'. The products roughly said, you get free updates for the product's life, up to four a year, or until third party vendors no longer give us the information, whichever is shorter.' We sort of went, well, that's clear. They drew a firm line in the water with that policy. Clearly the buyer isn't in charge here.
We left without a GPS. We figure there will be more opportunities.
We also left without a wii. The wife was interested in the wii because she likes to dance, there's no decent places to dance around here, and the wii has a 'game' called dance party or something. It looks like fun on television, but then, everything looks like fun on television, except for the few commercials talking about starving children and animals and the other commercials from lawyers telling us to call them if some drug or treatment made you sicker or killed you, because you can make some money off your misfortune.
The wii is more expensive than a GPS. As cautious buyers, we weren't sure if we wanted to buy it because a, we weren't positive about which product and equipment combinations we needed, and b, we weren't prepared to spend the money, because we weren't positive that we as people would use it. In other words, we didn't want to waste our money.
There are games for everything, especially if you're into violence and want to pretend you're a soldier or a mercenary and pretend to kill a lot of people and blow things up. That, apparently, is entertainment. The most intriguing game to me was the Harry Potter Lego game. You're playing on a computer, or wii, pretending you're Harry Potter...and you're made of Legos. I don't know what you're doing...casting Lego magic on Lego Muggles?
So bland Saturday netted us cat food, kitty litter, new pajamas (pyjamas or 'pee jays'), a couple loaves of bread, and a case each of black beans, tomatoes, soup. We are planning another shopping trip next week, on Thursday. I figure I'll take it Thursday off and we'll go register the car and look at the Garmins again after researching them this week.
I'm calling it 'Try Again Thursday'. I don't think it'll catch on, but you never know. If it becomes a holiday in the future, you can point to this blog as its first use.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com