I’ve seen a lot of posts on FB and Twitter lately about the great shopping debate…will you go out on actual Thanksgiving to shop “Black Friday”?
Well the day has arrived and I don’t have a soapbox to stand upon and I don’t have fancy research or links. However, I do have my own opinion.
I’m headed to the stores after I eat some turkey, and I’m hoping to take friends and or family with me. Here’s why.
Thanksgiving for most is about tradition and happiness. In my world Black Friday shopping is more tradition, happiness and family than the meal. Some of my favorite holiday memories involved heading to the mall with my Aunts the day after Thanksgiving and searching out bargains. We shopped for family, friends and yes sometimes ourselves. I learned how to budget and how to be patient. I learned how to communicate and ways to be polite in the store. By watching my family members shop, I learned what they liked and what they didn’t and it helped me to buy more meaningful gifts than a gift card in years down the road.
My family lives all over the US and not everyone comes back for Thanksgiving and like most families when you trap a lot of us in a small space things don’t always go well. I’m the oldest cousin by 2-3 years. When those with the next in age weren’t in town, the age gap was even larger. Today we’re all “adults” and age isn’t really a factor anymore, but at certain points it was HORRIBLE to be “so much older”, when there were a cluster who were within a year or two of each other. I thought I was left out of things a lot with the “kids” and I wasn’t old enough to be with the adults. Dinner at times could be boring or uncomfortable at best for a lot of years. Don’t get me wrong, there were good times and I know my family reads this and I’m not saying I hated you for crying out loud, but you have to admit I was sometimes between two worlds growing up.
Shopping the next day removed all the tension and barriers in my mind. We were all there for a good time. At least it seemed that way. As time passed fewer people joined us on our shopping trip and my sister and I continued the tradition. We studied the ads after dinner and mapped our conquests. We had it down to a science how to tag team the stores and make it around town. Even the year my wallet was stolen and my entire identity was compromised we found a way to get together and go shopping. I know many of you are rolling your eyes and shaking you head. It wasn’t about buying “stuff”, it wasn’t about “giving into the man”, it was about tradition. It was about family. It was about how 364 days a year we may not see eye to eye, some of those days we may not even speak, but on one day a year we were partners in crime and it felt perfect.
Like I said, holidays are different in my family now. The “kids” have all grown and moved out into the world. It’s even more difficult to see everyone at one place at one time. The times of having 2-3 long tables filled with people have disappeared. I often wonder if I’ll be a part of anything like it again. My own family surely won’t have anything like it anymore. Hopefully I marry into a family where holiday gatherings still happen. Or we’ll opt to be the host family. I would love to have it happen some day!
Right now, Thanksgiving for me and for a long time has been the day after the bird has been consumed. It’s about inside jokes and clever plots. It’s about people watching and tales to be told.
Even when I find myself going out alone (last year), it’s only because on some small level I want to keep my tradition and my memories alive. I want to find a piece of what I charished over the years. If it happens to fall on the same day as the rest of the world eating their pies, then so be it. I don’t mean any disrespect, but it’s the way I celebrate, it’s the way I reflect on my thankfulness. If I had all the power in the world, I would keep “Black Friday” on Friday and allow time with family and stores to grant their employees time as well, but we won’t live in a world where I have all the power, so for now I’ll do things my way, you do things your way and maybe we’ll all find a way to have a good time.