Black Friday: Not as Outraged as I was Supposed to Be

Every year at Thanksgiving, my Facebook newsfeed blows up with prophetic cries against the materialism and commercialism around Black Friday. These are my peeps – the counter-cultural, those trying to change the world, to go against the flow. I love you so dearly.

And if there was ever a time that the path against the flow is clear, it’s Black Friday. Buy nothing! Boycott! Take down the greedy corporations!

This year, status updates were fuming at the announcement many stores would be open Thanksgiving Day. All I kept thinking was “Why doesn’t this upset me more?”

I feel there is a tendency to paint a stark contrast: we are either cozy by the fire in Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving or we are angrily trampling strangers for a plastic toy. Neither one resonates with my experience.

We didn’t spend Thanksgiving with family. And I was bummed about it. But it had nothing to do with a 6 pm shift at Old Navy.

It was a five month old whose eyes said, “Yes, I will scream for a six-hour road trip,” the fact that my husband did have to work Friday and a genuine desire to celebrate with friends and neighbors.

And we still darted out of the festivities before dessert was finished. The reason? Melt downs and bedtime.

I realize it’s not the same as frustrations of holiday disruptions attributed to retail jobs. But I find myself recognizing that life doesn’t always fit our ideal mold. It might but a bummer, but it’s true.

Those Facebook rants also fell on my deadened heart because our family was unemployed too long. After four years of Billy searching for a job, I am simply so thankful for it.

Combine that with his general Guatemalan perspective from a country where people can’t find work, and you will never hear him complain about working. Ever. No matter the day, no matter the shift.   

I have also discovered I have a fondness for Black Friday that surprises even me. But the shopping extravaganza has always been less about stuff for us and more about memory making.

Three years ago, my husband and I had a fabulous, ridiculous evening together. Last year, we joined friends for a raucous night remembered fondly many times over the last year.

This stuff is inconsequential. Last year, we waited outside Kohl’s at midnight in the bitter cold. All I bought was a tub of Lego’s. I think I saved $10.

This year, we sauntered into Target. (I wish I could say we waited to midnight, but at 10 pm, I was tired and realized I’d simply be killing time.)

I don’t think I bought one sale item. Literally, I was in the men’s section helping Billy pick out dress pants. Do you know how long it’s been since we were in a store together without kids?

At one point, the store employees gathered in a dance circle at the front of the store. We gathered around the shouting and the clapping. 

Black Friday, in our family, has never been about the deals. It’s about the drama, about something to look forward to, about being with friends, about traditions and memories.

So there you have it. My reasons for participating in Black Friday even though on the surface it appears to go against everything I believe in.

You may disagree with me, and I’m totally okay with that. But I wanted to add a few words since I felt I was unfairly being included in phrases like “mindless masses.”  I actually do give some thought to it. 

We wrestle with the tension. Desire and contentment. Stuff and family. In reality, we all wrestle with these questions all year long, not just one day.

We keep trying to figure out the best way to live our values. I know you do, too.

Did you shop on Black Friday (or Thanksgiving)? How do you decide whether or not to participate?

Photo Credits: Death to Stock Photo and Mahat Tattva

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  1. Mary B11:39 AM

    "It’s about the drama,..." This is the reason I sit at home and shop on Amazon almost always, no matter how busy a season it is. I'm a recluse! :-D

  2. Denise L Hershberger1:57 PM

    We didn't PLAN to shop for Black Friday deals...but we did end up going out because there was such a good deal on a Garmin! It was our Christmas present to each other.

    I had to work most of the day Fri and I didn't mind. Similar to Billy I'd rather work any shift/any day than be out of a job!

  3. I love shopping on Black Friday...just in the comfort of my own home. I'm all about shopping online and getting the good deals without having to interact with the crazies. I'm not anti-Black Friday, but I'm anti the message that Black Friday sends: Your ability to get a bargain is more important than the personal safety of others, basic manners, someone else's time with their families, and common human decency. Once people stop getting stabbed, shot, and trampled on Black Friday, it won't leave such a bad taste in my mouth. I think the criticisms against it aren't unfounded. Our culture has elevated the purchase of STUFF above all else and it's quite troubling. Again, it's not the putting stuff on sale that I mind. It's the mentality that goes along with it. Not sure how to solve it. I think it's a heart problem within our society.

  4. ps - love seeing other bloggers use Death To The Stock Photo!

  5. hahaha! A recluse... :)

  6. Glad you got a good Christmas present, Denise!

  7. Those stories are definitely disturbing. I have never seen anything like that in my experiences out and about. I feel most people are enjoying themselves, but there are definitely those who take it to an extreme place that should never be reached.

    (You introduced me to Death to Stockphoto, and I love it!)


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