Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Why I Don’t Shop on Black Friday Anymore.

I woke up super early on Thanksgiving morning. It wasn’t by choice; it just happened. I tried to lay in bed in the hopes of falling back to sleep, but when it didn’t happen by 4:30, I decided I was suppose to get up. So I did, and started my morning routine. It had been a month since I was at the gym, thanks to a nasty cold that wouldn’t go away (remnants of which still remain). So out of the door I went just after 6 o’clock in the morning, with predictably almost no traffic, and only about a dozen of other early morning risers in the gym already working out.

I was happy to learn that the gym would be closing early so that the workers could be home with their families that evening for Thanksgiving dinner, and that they wouldn’t reopen until 7:00 on Friday morning. Though my intentions were to wake up early and get my workout out of the way, I actually overslept a bit after turning off my 6 a.m. alarm. Funny how that worked out. The morning I wanted to sleep in, I woke up super early, and the morning I wanted to wake up early, I overslept!

 I was expecting a larger crowd at the gym. While there were more people there than the crazy time I arrived on Thursday, there still weren’t as many there as I thought might be following all the overeating and high calorie foods from the day before. But the parking lots of Kohl’s and Walmart sure were full!   

I’m not knocking anyone who decided to get up early to shop, although I question those who camped out, given the temperatures last night. But I do wonder how many of the people out there have just gotten caught up in all of the buzz and “excitement” of the whole Black Friday phenomenon.

I’ve been part of that Black Friday frenzy in the past. If I were to be honest, I loved it! Back when my nieces and nephews were younger; at that age where they were expecting something from their Auntie, I would go out and try to find good deals. Sometimes I would even shop on behalf of my mom, who didn’t care for the Black Friday crowds, but liked the Black Friday prices; especially since she had so many grandchildren to buy for. Now, all but one of them are young adults in their 20s and 30s, and in general, sadly, we hardly ever get to spend the holidays together anymore.

But today, just as with the past four or five years, I simply asked myself, “Is there anything out there that you need that you don’t already have?”  The answer of course was no. When I calculated the fact that there was also nothing out there I was planning to purchase for friends or family that just had to be bought today either, it definitely wasn’t worth it to me to be out there. 

Moreover, I wonder how many people; namely, the early morning shoppers, even know the origins or meaning behind “Black Friday” and where the term came from? According to History.com:

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

The most commonly repeated story behind the post-Thanksgiving shopping-related Black Friday tradition links it to retailers. As the story goes, after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise. Though it’s true that retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, this version of Black Friday’s origin is the officially sanctioned—but inaccurate—story behind the tradition.

So basically, when you run out to shop the day after Thanksgiving, buying a lot of stuff for the holidays — often things you “want,” rather than what you “need” — simply because the items have been discounted, you’re basically supporting the retail industry making profits at the expense of your own bank account and personal budget taking a loss.

As I’ve said to many friends and family members, it doesn’t matter how great a sale is; if you’re spending money on things you don’t need, you’re still wasting your money.

Be careful that your Black Friday shopping doesn’t turn into Red Saturday regrets, and January depression as the credit card bills start to roll in.

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Thanksgiving 2015

It was another typical morning for my niece. Once again, she was running behind, having spent way too much time getting ready. So out of the door she got ready to run, without eating breakfast. When I insisted she grab a breakfast bar, she said they were out. Of course, I’d already looked through my sister’s pantry the night before, just checking out what was there. So I’d already seen a brand new box of my new favorite, BelVita breakfast bars.  She admitted she’d forgotten they had just purchased some, and grabbed one before leaving. As she did, my final words to her “It would be too ironic for you to be serving a meal to those who don’t have any food; and then you pass out from not eating, even though you DO have food!”

You see, my 17 year old niece was doing something I was very proud of — spending her Thanksgiving morning, along with her mom, serving meals at her church to those who didn’t have the means to buy, prepare and enjoy their own. They do more than just serve the food; they also spend time with those families and others who stop by.

Sometimes, I think my nieces and nephews don’t consciously think about what they have available to them every single day. I suppose it’s something we all can be guilty of at one time or another. Just last night, a nephew who had been visiting that evening, wanted my sister to stop by McDonalds on the way back home. Yes, it was way past dinnertime, and she should have prepared him something to eat. But, the fact that she had already told him she didn’t have any money on her, AND that they had plenty of food back at home where they were heading, didn’t phase him. He still wanted to stop and get something from a fast food restaurant; inspire of the fact that he didn’t have any money on him either.

I don’t know what decision she made once she got into the car and headed home. But I really hope she drove straight there and made him eat something they already had in the house.

I thought also about how many times we give in to the “easy,” with no thought of the practical. We go to fast food restaurants, order take out, have pizza delivered (one of the first things my nephew wanted earlier in the day) — all while our pantries are full; refrigerators well-stocked; and cabinets hold all of the extra snacks for those movie nights and drop by friend moments, without giving it a second thought. I would argue that unless one of “those” commercials come on during our favorite sitcom, we don’t regularly think about how many families aren’t warm and sitting in front of TV enjoying the latest episode of anything. Or how many are going to bed at night just as hungry as they were that morning?

Thanksgiving is a time when we can sometimes feel guilty about all of the things we have — the food, the family, our time with family and friends — especially as we’re reminded about how little others may have. I don’t want to walk around beating myself or anyone else up over the head, feeling bad about blessings that may have been bestowed upon us. But I do wish that we all could work harder to appreciate what we have; remember to thank Who it is who gave it to us, and allows us to have it; and be more open to share our blessings with others. I include myself in that group.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18