By Jeff Martin
In two days itís Black Friday.
Know what that means?
It means Broke Saturday.
Iím 40-years old, and Iíve been on this earth for nearly all of those years. One day I tend to avoid is Black Friday, the official holiday of MasterCard and Visa. This is the day when rabid deal-seekers clean out their traveling urinals and canteens and stand in shopping lines that, when straightened, could circumnavigate the globe. Twice.
I have no problem with the capitalist machine. Itís what makes this country great, but when a designated day, as in Black Friday, begins to encroach on the preceding Thursday ó that is, Thanksgiving ó thatís where the problem starts. That day is about relaxation and opening your eyes to everything and everyone around you that you should be thankful for.
Looking at financial figures amassed by the National Retail Federation, one has to figure that somewhere between the last dish of stuffing and the evening news, the general human being loses all sense of rational thought.
In 2012, shoppers between Thanksgiving evening and the day after spent $60 billion in the United States alone. And thatís on foot ó in other words, that figure doesnít take into account online sales, which has its own official day: Cyber Monday, or the Monday following Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving must have lost its meaning ó or, at the very least, it must have lost whatever potency it once had. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving lasted all day. My parents and family rose early on the day after Thanksgiving and went shopping, which is fine. Thatís decent and expected, and it respects the day that came before.
But when such a self-serving day as Black Friday begins to blacken such a sacred and teachable holiday as Thanksgiving, something is seriously wrong. I say ìteachableî because of all the holidays we celebrate, Thanksgiving aims to teach all human beings in the United States to be thankful for the things we have and not for the things we could have at 75 percent off. By letting Black Friday intrude on Thanksgiving a little more only makes its special lesson much more difficult to teach, especially to our kids.
The important things in life are often intangible, like freedom, fresh air; they are people, like family and friends; itís a job, love it or hate it; a roof, leaking or not; good health. It certainly isnít the open-air steel cage in isle seven stuffed full of old movies from Tri-Star Pictures for a buck, or the latest electronic gizmo that barely upgrades the former but pretends to by slapping a new logo on the front panel.
One of the greatest gifts available to everyone is awareness of self. Whoever permitted Black Friday to give Thanksgiving a black eye should re-examine themselves and make the necessary changes.
And if the powers that be wonít change, maybe we should and stay home.
After all, the consumers hold all the cards.