The encroaching Friday

Jam of the week: “Infinite Us” by Machinedrum

I love the late-year holiday season. Even as the days get shorter, I relish the fact that the greatest American holiday will be coming soon. It’s a day where the community gathers together despite the increasing cold weather of the season, wait patiently for what they will soon receive and gives thanks for the 32 inch plasma screen TV they got at a crazy discount.

Yes, I’m talking about Black Friday.

It’s a day to be thankful for getting out of Best Buy with only a few bruises. To let your family know how much you love them for going out at 4 a.m. to get a new gaming system. Black Friday is a great day to forget the lessons of Thanksgiving you were reminded of just hours ago.

If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this complaint since you’ll get the same tirade from your relatives around the table at Thanksgiving dinner. Firstly, tell Aunt Margaret I said hello. Secondly, the issue lies in how the holiday is encroaching on Thanksgiving itself. I don’t mean the stark duality of the two days. What is happening is that the Black Friday sales will literally start at some retailers on Thanksgiving.

People able to stave off their post dinner nap will be able to go to Walmart and Best Buy stores to begin shopping at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and other retailers such as Target and Kohl’s are set to open at 8 p.m. according to a KCRG story by Jill Kasparie.

The early start might be nice for some hardcore shoppers who won’t have to camp outside to get their Xbox. More hours also likely means more money for the retailers. Still, I’m opposed to the idea. That opposition doesn’t come from some deep-seeded anti-capitalist or anti-consumerist philosophy. It doesn’t come from some righteous feeling to keep the message of Thanksgiving strong.

What makes me distressed about the encroachment is knowing that people who work in these retail stores will have to set their holiday aside.

I’m sure many of you have been Black Friday shopping. My girlfriend is an avid Black Friday shopper because it allows her to get her Christmas shopping done early with big discounts. Having gone several times, always early, I’m there for the rush, the long lines, and then I’m done. What you probably don’t see is what the stores look like after the rush.

I remember going into a Toys ‘R Us store in the afternoon after Black Friday because I heard a deal about a game and I wanted to check it out but not get up insanely early. What I stepped into looked like a tornado came through. Toys had been ripped from their packaging and thrown aside. Displays were pushed over and the items on those displays littered the floors.

The dark side of Black Friday has always been evident. Just about every year you hear a story about someone being trampled under a crowd at a store. Retail employees have always had to put up with ornery customers early in the morning, taking many hours to prepare and then recover after the rush. I’m lucky I work at a place where I can get some time off to visit my family for the Thanksgiving holiday. For retail workers, it’s now not only difficult to travel to see people for Thanksgiving with most stores not offering time off on Black Friday, it’s now impossible.

I fear the reversal of such action is nearly impossible. All the complaining in the world has done little to stem the advance of the Christmas season earlier and earlier into the year. The allure of the deal is too good for many to pass up, especially with the economy still being as it is which is further incentive for companies to jump on the “Black Thursday” train.

Maybe there’s hope. My girlfriend, who always rolled her eyes when I complained about Black Friday, who always planned what stores she would visit to get her gifts sorted, said just the idea of Black Thursday was so offputting she’s considered not even shopping at all that weekend. While I won’t encourage you, the reader, to not shop if you want to on Black Thursday or Friday, do me a favor and be nice to the people working retail. Even if you show up early and don’t get what you wanted, remember the vacation time the cashier wanted to visit their family and didn’t get and probably won’t in the years to come.