Black Friday Madness

Okay, call me Scrooge, call me old fashioned, call me  a stick in the mud, but I simply don’t get it.

When and why did the holiday season become this frenzied, maniacal rush to buy things at the cheapest possible price?

The lead story on our local news was actually about people camping out all night in tents at the entrance to Best Buy, hoping to get in on the rock bottom Black Friday sale prices on all the latest and greatest electronic stuff.  Meanwhile, not five miles down the road, there were scores of homeless people who would consider themselves lucky to have the tent those folks were lounging in, much less the big screen tv they were all hepped up about buying.

I just don’t get it.

“It’s fun,” one shopper who had been out hitting the malls since 4:00 a.m. was quoted as saying.  “We start out earlier every year, and see how long we can go.  It’s fun to try and get the best deals.  It’s a tradition.”

Well, at least I’m comforted to know she values tradition.

Forgive me, but I think these folks are all absolute nutters.  Can they find no better use for their time and money?  And have they no sense at all about the true meaning of this holiday (if there is one left anymore).  Could any one of those folks so avidly searching for the latest video game or robot toy or perfect sweater for Aunt Sue and Uncle Bob stop and tell me how their frantic searching for cheap merchandise has anything to do with the birth of Christ?

Really, at the risk of sounding pious, it just seems sadly ridiculous that a holiday intended to celebrate the birth of a man the Christian world believes to be their Savior, a man who dedicated his simple life to the belief that mankind should live in peace and harmony with one another, and that true happiness could be found in doing good for others, that this holiday could become a paen to materialism and excess.

I have to admit, part of me feels a bit unpatriotic for my anti-shopping attitude.  The sad truth is that our American economy is counting on a  big shot in the arm from Christmas retail sales.  I certainly have every reason to hope the economy improves…but still, does it have to be at the expense of the true meaning of the season?

Forgive the ranting but all this shopping mania makes me hopping mad.  I’ve spent the entire bloody weekend trying to avert my eyes from the newspapers and tv commercials and internet ads proclaiming the greatest bargains of the year and rock bottom door buster prices.   I’ve been forced to spend my time reading, going for walks, listening to music, and of course eating some very good food. 

Poor me. (wink)

I will eventually have to go shopping, however, to purchase gifts to place under the Giving Tree at our church.  Gifts like hooded sweatshirts, warm hats, socks, and gloves, soap and shampoo, and children’s books.  These will be given to some other folks who camp out on the streets of Detroit every day, not just on Black Friday, because they have neither a wide screen tv nor a home to put it in.  Small and simple gifts, but it seems to me they come a little closer to expressing what this holiday is all about.

UPDATE: As an antidote to all this madness, I’ve just joined the Advent Conspiracy, a group which urges people to focus on compassion not consumption during the Christmas season.   It encourages us to spend less on gifts, and spend more  time with our families and in activities that help other people.  Sounds like a good idea to me.

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10 thoughts on “Black Friday Madness

  1. I’m also confounded by all this shopping frenzy. I’m not a religious person, by it seems we’ve gotten too far away from what Christmas is truly about.

    In the last few years we’ve stepped back from all the craziness and have made gifts for the people we celebrate with. It’s so satisfying on all levels.

  2. Call me Scrooge too!
    First, it’s perplexing to see the holiday (Christmas) displays and music over the loudspeakers at the stores – post Halloween, never mind Thanksgiving. In my mind, there is a time line of how these events and holidays should take place.
    But then again, I know our nation is struggling economically so the big retailers and mom & pops (the ones that still stand) are desperate to bring in the dollars.
    I don’t like it one bit.
    This year for Christmas (which is very much a spiritual holiday for me), I’ve decided to scale down, way down, on spending. I will decorate and celebrate the season – but more importantly – I will give in the form of volunteering my time (and my daughter’s time) to those in need.

  3. I’m with you on this! I’ve never understood the shopping frenzy this time of year. What I find ironic is in a season of “goodwill and peace” people will run over each other in the parking lot to get a good space.

  4. Together we stand, and we’re not alone. The stay at homers and the sane are not given any press coverage and we really don’t want any, I suppose. Though it would be nice to see that there are other sane people in the world. I’ve enjoyed making a few Xmas gifts this weekend … Elderberry syrup for a delici ous addition on top of ice cream AND it’s an immune system builder. A few drops a day keeps lots of illness away. Also put together some relaxing herbal teas and a handmade body cream. Now that’s fun!!

  5. I’ve been the early-morning-black-friday-shopper and this year it was great to forgo the frenzy and mass-produced-cheap-deal.

    This year, shopping less, shopping locally and focusing more on the experience than the expenditure.

    Peace,
    JP/deb

  6. In Belgium sales are regulated by law (in order to protect little stores from big chains that would outprice them all year round): we have all major sales in january and july. They are totally unrelated to holidays, simply put at the end of winter or summer season.

    Additionally our Christmas season will only start from next week onwards. I think it’s insane to start all Christmas preperations so early! (except in church where advent indeed has started). All these blogs already talking about Christmas baking, Christmas music, shopping and other preperations irritate me as a matter of fact? How can you already be in the mood? By the time the real celebrations are there, you must be tired of it all?

    Next week we celebrate Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas, …the original Santa Claus): a child holiday so all stores now advertise Sinterklaas & toys but there’s no real sales linked to it. Only after that christmas trees start appearing (only have seen 2 so far)

    Funny thing is that I heard for the first time the concept of “Black friday” in Belgium too as Apple had online sales which we could benefit from too. So newspapers documented which good sales could be found online on international websites.

  7. You’re inside my head once again, Becca. I’ve had it. Every year I completely ignore the shopping frenzy on Black Friday and that entire weekend. That is not to say that I don’t buy some gifts for my grandchildren, but I even had second thoughts about the overindulgence of that this year. It’s all too much. We all need to dial it back a bit.

  8. Bravo, Ms. Becca! When you said this: “Forgive me, but I think these folks are all absolute nutters.” All I could say was “Ditto!”

    I love shopping as well as anyone, but that’s insane, it’s certainly not my value perspective and my guess is not a lot of folks out there were shopping for the giving trees in their community.

    Beautifully stated — as always. And spot on!

  9. Thanks for standing by me, guys! Goofball, it’s really interesting to hear about the customs in Belgium, which is more like what I remember from growing up. I wish we could take a page from that book and return to a more sane approach to the holiday season.

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