Black Friday is more of an American holiday than Thanksgiving could ever pretend to be.
Set aside the fact that Thanksgiving as we view it in modernity, with Charlie Brown specials and poorly documented peaceful Pilgrim-Native American cooperation, is a sham. It is not even a uniquely American holiday.
Canada celebrates it too, albeit way too early and with what I can assume is a heaping helping of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Black Friday, however, is ours
and ours alone.
Our neighbors to the north import themselves by the carfull to our mega-malls for price slashed savings, spending their hard-earned Canadian cash on our imported Chinese gadgets before exporting themselves across the border, mostly duty free. Now that is American.
I contend that it is much more difficult to get in touch with our Pilgrim ancestors than our own ingrained American consumerism. I have seen hungrier eyes trained on a pile of deeply discounted game consoles than I ever have looking towards a tender turkey on the table.
In the competitive spirit as great as American capitalism at its finest, we treat Black Friday as if it is a game. The Thanksgiving morning newspaper ads serve as our playbook. The goal: haul away as many goods as we can without sinking ourselves into debt. Some are better at finances than others, but we all win. We jest in camaraderie as we line up, sharing in the excitement and misery of waiting in the cold, but as soon as those double-glass automatic doors open, it is ding-ding, boxers in the ring.
Every person for themselves. Fists may fly, families may split up, but everyone leaves with a smile and cartload of merchandise.
It is not by chance that the newest “Hunger Games” movies are released just before the Thanksgiving holiday. It gets people in the spirit of the battalion. The Capitol has nothing on the retail industry. There have been seven deaths and ninety injuries since 2006
on Black Friday.
Though I have never witnessed a stabbing or trampling first-hand, there are plenty of instances in recent memory that kept my fight-or-flight reflex in peak condition. Namely, Walmart in Williamsburg, V.A., Black Friday 2012.
Mass confusion ensued when a devious or misinformed employee started handing out flat-screen televisions to those who do not have tickets for the items, which were handed out hours earlier outside of the store.
The managers dealing with a meltdown over Tupperware on the other side of the retail giant were unprepared for the red-faced voucher waving shoppers, my mother included that they stumbled upon at the scene. The look of sheer terror on the face of this poor, acne riddled assistant manager, not much older than me, as he reflected on the life choices that led him to this exact moment in time was almost too much to bare.
We like to lament the injustices of employees being forced to work on Thanksgiving with competition in the industry for Black Friday to start earlier growing each year. We perversely still take our money out of our mouths and shop anyway.
Oh, do we shop. America spent an estimated $57.4 billion over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2013. That is more than the top ten highest-grossing movies earned in the past five years. Combined.
Holidays are supposed to be exciting and stimulating. The best ones are. Thanksgiving, however, is passive and boring.
I would argue that it is not the tryptophan that induces our post-meal food coma naps. Rather, it is our subconscious desire to end the day already and get to
the main event.
Black Friday envelops everything that is gratuitous and wonderful about America. The WWE, a Macy’s One Day Sale and 24-hour convenience all wrapped together with a bow of materialistic idolatry.