I used to go out shopping every Black Friday(what we in the States call the shopping day the day after Thanksgiving). On Thanksgiving day my family and I would lay out the advertisements and put together a plan of action, then we would get up at the crack of dawn and tackle the sales together before celebrating our frugal finds with a lunch together. It was a fun was to spend time together and get a jump start on the many chores that come with the Christmas season.
I began to notice years ago that the tradition was losing its shine. Black Friday was no longer fun to me when being pushed around by other shoppers and standing in line for hours on end just to save a couple of bucks. Then came September 11, 2001. That day- the tragedy itself, the senseless loss of life and the newfound fear for our home country and all who lived in it seemed to change our thoughts in this country. We became softer, kinder and wiser to what was more important. I ventured out that first Black Friday after September 11th determined to provide a great first Christmas to my firstborn child and also wanting to give to those less fortunate while thriving on a very tight budget. I cannot remember what I bought that year. Our purchases rarely matter in the way that we hope for them too. What I do remember from that post-September 11th Black Friday was the kindness and compassion that abounded. I remember standing in line in the cold while a woman with a shaky voice began to sing Silent Night and we all joined in, most of us crying at the same time. When the doors to the store opened, we finished the song before stepping into the store- the rush for the deals not nearly as important as coming together in the cold night to sing a song that bolstered our hearts and reminded us of our togetherness. That shopping day was full of politeness and joy. My love for Black Friday was back en force.
The next year I ventured out again on Black Friday, sure of the wondrous experience that awaited me. Unfortunately, in that year we had forgotten what we had learned and back again was the rudeness, the pushing, the anger and the frustration that permeated everything. There was no Christmas joy to be found in the gluttonous consumerism that year- or any of the next few that followed. After a time, I chose to forgo Black Friday altogether, no longer deriving any joy from the unconscious need to consume or the sales that continued to bleed further and further into my sacred Thanksgiving holiday.
I'm certainly not discouraging those that derive joy from their Black Friday traditions. I think that if it brings you joy, you should do it! After all, joy is not always easy to find.
For me- I choose to spend the day after Thanksgiving with my family- in my home with Christmas music playing and a joy hangover in our hearts from the day before. We will venture out on Small Business Saturday with some conscious consumerism to benefit our small town shops and will find time to buy a present or two over the weekend for ourselves and the children whom we "adopt" to spoil each holiday season. I'm well over Black Friday for now, however. Until that day when I can again feel the joy of a society coming together again in celebration and gratitude. I believe that day will come again, and I hope it does not take another national tragedy on our own soil to remind us all of what is important.
Wherever you are in the world, and whatever holidays you do(or don't) celebrate, I wish you the joy and love of the season. It cannot be found inside any package that we can buy in any store. It's right inside each of us. May you never forget that.