The Day After
Thanksgiving has come and gone and this morning, as we have for many years, we rose while roosters slept and headed out to face the crowds at the stores for special deals on those Christmas goodies. Most of the time, we aren’t really looking for Christmas gifts. We’re just browsing to see what catches our eye or to pick out something for the house. It’s been a tradition for about twelve years now, only it’s changed some over the past two years.
Last year, Black Friday began to put the squeeze on Thanksgiving. If you’ve been around, then you remember my rant about it back then with Blacker Thursday. Some stores opened at 8 p.m. last year in order to get the drop on the competition. We refused to play along and for the first time in twelve years skipped the whole Black Friday experience. To be honest, the whole reason we started it was to get those small Mickey Mouse snow globes that J.C. Penny’s passes out to the first few customers and they didn’t do it last year, so we slept in. This year, however, it was worse. Not only did more and more stores jump on the Thanksgiving-Is-A-Shopping-Day bandwagon, some even opened as early as 6 a.m. and stayed open all day. The pressure was on and now employees as well as parents with long gift lists were skipping part of the day with their family to wait in long lines and deal with angry consumers fighting over some overly priced gadget that now could be slashed down in price. We refused again this year.
Thursday night, Thanksgiving night, I had a gathering of our kids around a fire pit in the backyard. A couple of hours later, they were huddled around the kitchen table playing a card game. Music played, pies were devoured and my Jameson was quickly disappearing. Laughter mixed with holiday music and the 9 year-old made sure she didn’t get left out of the games. The house was open and the college kids kept coming. It was this gathering of family and friends that Thanksgiving was about, being surrounded by the people for whom I am thankful. Being away from them on this day, losing this time, was not worth any discount on material possessions. I would rather spend the extra cash and have the extra time with my family.
Now, that doesn’t mean we did not go out Friday morning. We did. At 3:30. J.C. Penny’s was once again passing out those small globes and we were back in line for ours. However, the streets were quiet and so were the stores. Everyone else had gone out the night before leaving Black Friday, the real Black Friday, for us. We enjoyed it and it didn’t even matter that most of the big ticket items were gone. We weren’t out looking for anything in particular. We were just out.
We browsed, we bought, we ate breakfast, and we did get a head start on Christmas. Yet, we did it without sacrificing time with our family, and that to me is more important than savings. I think to walk away from the Thanksgiving Day gathering to wait in a retail line sends the wrong message to our children. It doesn’t say, “Hey, I’m sacrificing to be able to get you something.” Rather, it says, “Possessions are more important than being home with you on Thanksgiving.” It’s not the message I want to send my family.
I know this trend won’t go away. It’s started and once retail begins something, it never goes back to the way it was. It’s a sad reality. I can’t change the world, but I can change my little portion of it. Or rather, not change it. Thanksgiving will always be a day for family and not a day for shopping. I hope you would put time with yours above helping the corporate world. It is the memories that will carry us into retirement, not the gifts. To be honest, your time is the best gift you could ever give and you don’t even need wrapping paper or a card.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~