So, it’s Black Friday. Am I planning to go out shopping today?
What’s with Black Friday anyway? Why is it so important that it gets its name capitalized just like a city or a pope or a national holiday? Or my name?
It is also one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Imagine that, we actually have a day that we set aside for first world consumption…
Black Friday began in Philadelphia in the 1950s when merchants would hold large sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving and before the traditional Army/Navy football game on Saturday. It took on the descriptive ‘black’ terminology because of the resentment of workers who had to work long hours and the frustration of police who had to manage the oppressive crowds.
In 2003 two retail giants tried to get an edge on the competition by opening their doors before dawn on Black Friday morning and it soon became the biggest, longest shopping day of the year. (For your interest, the two companies who did this were named K-Mart and Sears – ever heard of them?)
Anyway, things haven’t changed much…
But wait: we don’t have an Army/Navy football game this week in Canada! For that matter, we don’t have a Thanksgiving this week in Canada either!
So then why on earth are we having Black Friday sales here like it’s normal? And what Canadian stores are so brazen as to have Black Friday sales on the coattails of those blatant capitalists south of the border? Actually, a better question would be, ‘Who isn’t having a Black Friday sale in Canada?‘
Wow. Retailers must find it so difficult to be discounting and competing against each other every year and losing all that money so they can give consumers such amazing deals out of the goodness of their hearts, right?
Well, maybe … except they have also come up with a new little thing called ‘Black Friday in July‘. So now they get to lose tons of money twice a year and ruin the best part of the summer for their employees too! In order to give consumers those amazing deals out of the goodness of their hearts, no doubt.
Look, I’m not against Black Friday (yes I am) but I do have to admit I don’t get the idea of shopping as a recreation. Whether you agree with me or not, it is true that shopping needlessly consumes many consumers. Why, there is even a common problem called ‘Shopping Addiction’ which has birthed a response known as a ‘Shopping Fast’ which means going for a period of time without out buying anything more than food (see here and here). Yikes!
Regardless of your shopping issues, it will be a busy and stressful world out there for the next while: drivers will be stressed just like sales people will be stressed just like those other shoppers will be stressed. I hope you give the patience and space you would want for yourself and extend the same courtesy and patience you expect to receive. Because that other annoying shopper might be me.
But here’s my main advice: as you straggle out to the box stores and malls this season to do your Christmas shopping, do it for you. That’s right, shop for you. Plan ahead so you can shop for who you want, when you want, at a cost you can afford. Give thought to your purchases – don’t buy simply to fill an obligation – then choose to experience and delight in each and every gift you give and receive. Take pictures in your mind of the family and friends so you can cherish them in your heart.
Reminds me of Mary the mother of Jesus who, if you think about it, is one of the main characters responsible for bringing the Christmas rush. She had experienced many distracting and mind-warping events, ‘But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ – Luke 2:19 (NIV)
The only important thing about this season is the appreciating and remembering.
That’s good wisdom for a Black Friday.