When Black Friday comes, I’m going to dig myself a hole…
Lucy is crying. She wants to go to the mall today because, unbeknownst to me, she never gets to go to the mall. She was there about 2 weeks ago, but that might as well have been 2 years ago in her mind. At the tender age of 6 (almost 7), she has fully embraced holiday consumerism. There is no turning back. She’s a Toys R Us Kid (or more accurately, an Apple aficionado).
Her older sister is at the mall. At the not-quite-as-tender age of 15 (almost 16), she is firmly entrenched in the target demographic group for unbridled consumerism. 16 year old girls are the new 25-55 male demographic. One day, they will have all the money, and their buying habits must be cultivated early and often.
I should not be surprised, and frankly, I am not. I am more resigned to the transformation happening before my eyes. How could I have prevented it? It’s in the newspaper, on the TV, the radio, discussed on the school bus, and over the family turkey feast. You must buy, and you must buy today, this day of all days – Black Friday.
If I sound cynical, I am. It is Black Friday, and all 3 of my children fully understand that this day has one unifying purpose: spend my money. Actually, it is more than just spend money. This day for them is about becoming a part of something larger than themselves. They feel the need to participate in the communal experience of going to a mall, or a strip center, or a big box retailer. Grocery shopping does not count. Shopping is necessary, buying is optional. Black Friday for them means being out there. Black Friday means being included.
I’ve been there in the trenches. I’ve been the day after Thanksgiving shopper, but more often in my life I’ve been the post-Thanksgiving shop-ee. I worked more Black Fridays in retail than I can remember, and yes, there was a sense of belonging that you gained from working that darkest of all days. The sense of belonging, however, was defined by a communal sense of misery. We were at work servicing the crazy shoppers and balancing all their delusions of bargains to be had. Yes, we had bargains. You could buy a shirt for $29.99 or buy 2 for $60. Quick, decide before the aggressive woman behind you in line does the math and scoops up this giveaway! Act now!
Now I preach more patience in shopping. I also preach more limited spending. Today, however, I am railing against the wind. I am old, out of touch and a holiday miser. Christmas isn’t coming this year, because I am not taking my 6 year old to the mall. Humbug. She has closed herself in her room, crying because Christmas has now been cancelled - by my refusal to take her to the mall.
So, to stop the tears of the children, to save our economy, to save the planet, please by all means get out there while there is still time. Santas are standing by to take your order.
If for some odd reason you plan to stay home today, all is not lost. You still have Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday in front of you, and we expect to see you at the mandatory meetings.