I had never heard of the Rockettes. My mom told me that tomorrow, the day after Thanksgiving, we would be getting up super early to take the train into Boston to see the Rockettes. She said they were these really gorgeous dancers that came from New York City and they were famous for holding onto each other like paper dolls and kicking their long legs all at the same time. She said it was called a kick line, and from the way she described it, it sounded pretty cool. Truth be told, she seemed more excited than I was! So the next morning, we hopped on the T and headed into town to see these Rockettes.
When we got into Downtown Crossing, we came through Filene’s Basement and the place was MOBBED! There were people everywhere and everyone of them was running around frantically like the item in their hand was spontaneously combusting. I had no idea what this sense of urgency was all about? What kind of sale was this? That’s when my mom explained that it was BLACK FRIDAY. Clutching my hot chocolate I looked around at the scene around me. Bins full of of mark downs, Christmas decorations everywhere, and all kinds of excitement. I was in Heaven. This would become my favorite day of the year.
Fast forward about 20 years.. and here we are in 2013 and my beloved “holiday” has been murdered. Black Friday is no more, and has instead been replaced with Black Thursday Night? Retailers have become so greedy that instead of opening at 6am on Friday morning, like they did when I was a little girl, the retail machine has evolved into a money grubbing, succubus that instead starts at 6pm on THANKSGIVING NIGHT! If I sound upset it is because I AM!! for so many reasons!!!
Let’s talk about the obvious one. The poor souls who have to go work in these stores. Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving with their families at home and relaxing on one of TWO, that’s right TWO dedicated Shopping Holidays out of the year, they have to be at work before dessert is even served! There is no getting out of it either! These employees, who we all know are paid a pittance anyway, MUST agree to work Black Friday or they get fired on the spot. And they don’t just work regular shifts either- most work a 4 hour shift, go home and sleep for 4 and then need to be back for another 8! Why? So Target and Walmart and Best Buy can collect those dollars THAT much sooner.
A lot of people, think that the name Black Friday comes from the idea of the day being one of mass chaos and pandemonium somewhat like a natural disaster. The day the world went crazy. But actually, this name originated way back when retailers operated “in the red” for most of the year- that is they were in debt, and the day after Thanksgiving was the first day that the stores finally operated “in the black,” hence the term Black Friday. And I get that, I really do… But the little sign at the front of Target that tells me that of the 80 million they make a week they donate 4 million to local schools- makes me think they are doing pretty okay without sucking the life out of the last of two holidays these poor retail workers have.
So I will humor you for a second: What about the employees who don’t have families to be home with or really need the money? What if they want to work that day?
Well my answer to you folks is this.. WHAT ABOUT MY NEEDS? I am the consumer. Maybe I would like to spend Thanksgiving with MY family!! It used to be (at least at my house) that after dessert, we would take out the two or three papers we bought and start to “pre-game” for shopping. Me, my sister, and my mom would sit around the table and decide which store we would hit first and who was responsible for going after which item. One year my job was to grab GAME BOYS. I remember running into Target as it opened and running down to the electronics department, ducking under people, weaving in and out of sleepy shoppers and grabbing my loot! The anticipation of standing outside the store wondering where they had hidden your item was part of the thrill!
After pregaming we would maybe play Monopoly and then every year without fail, the whole family would snuggle down to watch Christmas Vacation, before retiring early to bed, early enough to wake up at 3 am, grab some coffee/hot chocolate, and go stand in line in 20 degree weather.
Now, there is no time for any of that. Heck, you probably need to take your turkey dinner in a doggie bag to eat on the way because the stores are opening at 6PM!!! That means you need to be in line by 5 at the latest… so no dessert for you! And if you don’t partake in this ridiculousness? You straight up miss out, because if you wait until Friday morning like in the old days, you will find the shelves of your favorite stores as bare as the town of Whoville after the Grinch had his way with it!
Black Friday has pushed back from 6am on Friday, to 4 am, to Midnight, to 8pm and now 6pm!! A whole twelve extra hours of dollar signs for the big box stores.
Well I for one, am not playing. Sorry Target, but I don’t need your amazing deal on a 50 inch tv, more than I need the company of my family and friends gathered around the dinner table stuffed with turkey and sweet potato pie. I don’t need Walmart’s 99 cent dvd sale more than I need to watch football with my cousins, and I certainly don’t need Best Buy’s $200 computer more than I need time to snuggle watching Christmas movies with my kids. I admit, it makes me sad though, because I had always envisioned myself someday taking my kiddos into town to see the Rockettes, or waking up early to sneak off and get them that “it” toy they wanted, and still have money to get them a few other things to go with it, but I realize that the Black Friday of my youth is gone forever. Just like VHS tapes, slap bracelets and trolls (who ever thought those things were cute?!!), Black Friday is no more, but I will always have the memories and will be able to tell my kids about a time when the almighty dollar was no match for the comfort and relaxation of Thanksgiving.