The day has grown late as you and your family relax after a large meal, filled with various traditional delicacies and nutritional content that would make dieticians cringe with fear.
You spend this evening enjoying the company of your family, whether through a shared pass-time or a group nap session from the resulting turkey coma.
Skipping ahead a couple of hours, you urge your overstuffed body to move into your vehicle of choice with other, equally weary family members joining you as you embark on a journey to the local department store.
Others with similar intentions wait in a line with a length that would rival that of a rock concert.
Bundled in what ever blankets you took with you, crouching in whatever tent you were able to set up in the crowded space, weathering the biting cold air, the sharp, icy winds, and the unwelcome snowflakes, you count the hours that pass.
The fated hour approaches, you step out of the tent, removing the blankets that shield you, and proceed to pack up your urban campsite. A lone employee stands at the door, taking the key and slowly turning the lock.
The anticipation builds within you and your fellow shoppers until, like floodwater breaking through a concrete dam after a torrential rainstorm, you and your collective shoppers rush through the doors, mowing down the unfortunate employee, and scrambling to grab the choice knick-knacks, tchotchkes and decadent symbols of abundance, all to save what amounts to a few cents off of the item’s original price.
You are a Black Friday shopper, risking life, limb, and sanity, all in the name of getting a good deal.
So why do we do it?
– See a movie
– Build a snowman (or leafman)
– Balance/Calculate your holiday budget
– Research the products you were thinking of buying
– Get some reading done
– Spend some quality time with your Netflix queue
– Burn some of those Thanksgiving calories through exercise
What compels us to give in to the throes of greed and spend billions of dollars less than one day after a holiday in which we give thanks for the things we have?
Are we motivated by desperation to complete our Holiday shopping early?
Do we seek to show to others that we can handle the pressure and additional spending, and are therefore better for it?
Why is it that we go from showing kindness and gratitude in one moment, only to come to blows over a discount mp3 player in the next?
Such are the questions that arise from the strange American tradition that is Black Friday.
The tradition stems from the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, where the arrival of Santa Claus heralds the beginning of the Holiday shopping season. Unlike today, many retailers in the past would wait until after Thanksgiving to advertise their products, as it was considered a faux pas.
This changed in 1939 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to move the holiday up one week in order to expand the shopping season in hopes that the increased spending would end The Great Depression.
This resulted in notable public outcry, with some states following FDR’s declarations, and others keeping to the traditional date.
On October 6, 1941, both houses of the United States congress passed a joint resolution that fixed the traditional date of Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of November, as was declared by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
The following December, the Senate added an amendment where the holiday would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, as there were some years, like 2012, where the month had five Thursdays instead of four.
It was after this madness that retail stores and companies no longer held back about advertising before Thanksgiving because they could pin the blame on the chaos caused during that time.
This begs the question of whether or not the onslaught of advertising compels people to take part in this debatably ridiculous tradition, or if it’s the people taking part in this tradition that compels companies to advertise.
In an era that echoes the political sentiments of The Great Depression, it is not a question that one can answer easily.
First, take a deep breath. Second, analyze the product. Third, ask yourself the following questions.
– Why am I buying this?
– Am I buying this for myself, or for the person I’m shopping for?
– Have I thoroughly checked the competitor’s prices?
– Will this product be available at a later time?
A good rule of thumb is that if the purchase is over $100 dollars, plan on leaving and then coming back the next day after you’ve thought about it for a while.
I am of the opinion that in a time where the cost of living is on the rise, we must be able to keep ourselves on a tighter financial leash.
While the sales may seem enticing, all too often, many shoppers neglect to read the fine print attached to these deals that require you to spend more money than you can possibly expect to save.
Do yourself a favor, enjoy the four day weekend by spending time with your family, whether it’s sitting at home playing a board game, going to see a movie, or taking part in the fall/winter fun that’s to be had here in Utah, weather permitting.
Don’t waste it by going to a crowded mall or department store where the shelves are bare by 10:00 am.