An extension?

I love a good spectacle. So now that Black Friday’s come around, I really want to go. At midnight. It seems that would be the best time for viewing. Perhaps I could find a tram or something to get a closer look: I’d get to see ravenous consumers roaming the mall from store to store, combing through the merchandise to find their bleeding prey. Or at least, a great deal. It’s like we’ve regressed back to being hunter-gatherers, but instead of finding berries and venison, we’re foraging for XBOX’s and blouses.

Black Friday is a weird day. It sounds ominous, like the Black Plague or something. When did this all begin? Here’s the account according to Wikipedia:

Although Black Friday, as the first shopping day after Thanksgiving, has served as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season at least since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the term “Black Friday” has been traced back only to the 1970s. “Black Friday” was originally so named because of the heavy traffic on that day, although most contemporary uses of the term refer instead to it as the beginning of the period in which retailers are in the black.

It’s one of those oddities in the calendar: like Halloween before All Saints Day or Mardi Gras before Easter. These holidays operate like yin and yang. I guess it would have to happen to Thanksgiving. Right after we thank God for everything we have and feel content and full, we then wake up at the crack of dawn to buy something more. It’s like we just forget what happened the day before, and remind ourselves yet again of everything we don’t have or wish we had or needed more of.

The Scriptures call us to be “content in any and every situation.” But it’s hard when that flat screen TV is 50% off. Or when a giant size iPhone beckons us in from it’s crystal perch. (It’s no accident that the Apple logo has a bite taken out of it — not-so-subtly hinting at what happened in Eden, isn’t it?) It says, “I know you want me,” and blows a seductive kiss in our direction. And we feel the need again. Though our bellies hang with cranberry sauce, we need to feel full again. And isn’t it good for the economy anyway? Want and spend — isn’t that the American way of life?

Why not extend Thanksgiving for a few more days, at least through the weekend? What if we let Christmas and its shopping hold off for a while? It’s red-tag sales will still be there, and the shopping won’t go away. But for now, enjoy the family, count your blessings, and be full for a little bit.

I guess I’ll miss the spectacle again this year. Too bad: Best Buy had this 32″ LCD for under… never mind.

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  1. After I posted, I found something called Buy Nothing Day on November 23, 2007.


  2. Commerce or the market place activities of producing, buying, and selling are natural and necessary to our existence, but materialism twists what is good (or natural at least) into something perverse. How do we find and keep the balance, eh?


  3. Oops, the anonymous post was by me! =)


  4. No, no, it was me! :)


  5. Shame on you, Mark! Hahaha!


  6. […] – An Extension? (Tell It Slant) […]


  7. American consumerism makes me sick…then I realize that many of my neighbors and friends here in Cambodia wouldn’t have jobs to feed their families if they didn’t open factories here and these factories won’t stay open unless we continue to buy stuff. This is just to say I agree with Jinhee but have no answer.


  8. if you haven’t checked out the associated link, its pretty interesting. those crazy mennonites! the “about” page has some good stuff on consumerism…


  9. associated to your Buy Nothing Day link that is…


  10. I agree with Anita.

    It’s strange how my thoughts are evolving. I used to decry American greed. Now that I see how much of the developing world depends on our buying habits, I’m left a little dumb founded.

    After all, an American with a shopping addiction and credit card debt will always have food on the table but the 2/3 world poor have no such guarantee.

    I understand concepts of finite carrying capacity, projecting an unattainable lifestyle to the majority of the world, etc. I just don’t see a viable alternative at this point.

    Regardless, I hear you regarding an extension of the Thanksgiving experience. It won’t matter to anyone involved if we purchase our goods three days later.


  11. James, I used to LOVE black friday shopping every year. Scope out the good deals, plan my shopping very strategically to extract all that I could from that day. A couple years back I realized what it was doing to my soul, so since then I’ve intentionally stayed away from the stores on black friday and spent time with family instead. But each time I still totally feel the pull of great deals and stuff I want to buy.


  12. Isaac: Thanks for the link. I’m interested in that movie that they’re promoting: “What would Jesus buy?” Ouch.

    Jinhee, Anita & Danny: Yes, you’re right. The market does help with the economies in other nations, if it’s done justly. I guess I don’t fall lock-step with the anti-globalization movement.

    But American consumption is way off the charts. And the debt burden on our nation even greater. I think you’re right: we don’t have many other alternatives, but we can still create markets without going on a spending frenzy.

    Besides, if I buy a flat-screen television, that probably won’t trickle down to the markets of the third world, unless they’ve learned to capitalize on high tech. And this is where I venture into my wife’s territory, and she’s getting a doctorate. So she can (and probably will) correct me… =)

    Steve: bravo! But yes, the deals are alluring. Someone emailed me about how to get Office 2008 for Mac for $36, and I had to jump at it. And that was right after I wrote the post. Haha — I have a nasty plank in my eye…


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