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I’m Thankful For Black Friday

November 22, 2012

It is Thanksgiving Day and I’ve had a glass of Thanksgiving wine. Here are some things I am thankful for:

I’m thankful for my friends.

I’m thankful for my grand parents.

I’m thankful for the fuzzy slippers that I’m wearing right now that my mom sent me for my birthday this year.

I’m thankful for trees.

I’m thankful for everyone that has read, commented and liked my blog. I’m more grateful than I’m able to express.

I’m thankful that I live in America, despite its many faults. The luck of my birthplace is something that I feel unworthy of at times.

I’m thankful that I have a job even though I hate it a lot of the time. The good moments are brilliant and I know I will look back on this time in my life with fondness, even though in the heat of the moment it can provoke strong feelings of distaste.

I’m thankful for Black Friday.

What is Black Friday? Taken out of context, it appears the most crass and disgusting embodiment of capitalist culture. People across America line up outside retail outlets in the middle of the night, shivering like jonesing junkies. The doors open and every year, somewhere in the country, a person is trampled or blasted in the face with pepper spray. No one knows what fresh horror this year’s pageant will come up with. It is a day that everyone decries, yet every year the lines grow bigger and bigger. The stores open earlier and earlier. The deals are “better and better”. What could possibly make these people, who are in every other regard normal people, what could make them queue in such a fashion? What could draw them out of their turkey-induced stupor and out into the cold, frosty night? What bargain is so great that people are willing to risk their lives in order to obtain it? Is a massive TV at a reduced price worth the shame of having been one of the hordes that perpetuate the overt commercialism of Black Friday and put more money into the moneyed oligarchs that hold so much influence over national and global affairs? Taken out of context, Black Friday is a horrible blight on our national character that makes us look like a nation of fat Gollums, forever reaching for the next new thing after having just eaten twice our weight in animal flesh and stuffing.

So what is Black Friday in context? Black Friday exists in service to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice. Admittedly, Christmas is the obviously the biggest shareholder in Black Friday, but true capitalism is all-inclusive. Black Friday is the opening celebration of the approach of Christmas and the winter holidays. Black Friday signals the opening of the season when, across the country, we agree to not only come together—we do that many other times in the year—but to honor each other as well. Black Friday heralds the coming of the time of year when people reflect upon their similarities and put aside their differences. Black Friday points the way to the New Year, to the rebirth of spring. Black Friday is the concentrated commercial pinnacle of Christmas that slowly ebbs, giving way to goodwill and charity, honor and love of the holidays.

In recent years, Black Friday has begun to bleed into Thanksgiving, encroaching like a terrible pestilence. It is eating away the end of a day that is supposed to be a nation giving thanks. It makes us look as though, when we went to give thanks, we realized we had nothing to be thankful for so we had to rush out in the middle of the night and step over an old lady or two to lay hands on a DVD set whose price has been reduced by 70%. It is the instinct of many Americans to lay blame at the feet of these soulless corporations who ask their employees to come in earlier and earlier. “They are sacrificing the good of their employees in pursuit of profits!” comes the rallying cry. “How dare they?” Despite the complaints of retail employees, despite the sympathetic overtures of consumers, despite some companies making deliberate attempts to be good, the lines still form and the hordes still gather. There is no slowing the march of Black Friday. The only people who can stop it is us, the consumers. And we are way too excited about Christmas and the winter holidays. We are ready to come together and sing and make merry and honor each other with gifts. Can that be a bad thing? Is it worth it to sacrifice Thanksgiving to Christmas?

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