For some reason, Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year. What have people got to buy that is so important that it can’t wait until Saturday? Or next Tuesday? Or two weeks from now? Or until, say, late afternoon of Christmas Eve, the way I do? I save hours of shopping because all the good stuff is gone and there aren’t so many choices to make. What’s left is stuff nobody really wants or the stuff that’s really expensive. Do you really think the stores are going to run out of iPods or Xboxes? They aren’t. But no one on my list is going to get one.
Oh, they say, there are good deals to be had on Black Friday. Hmmm. Maybe. But you know when there are really good deals on things? A few weeks after Christmas. That’s when a gift certificate, or better yet, cash would come in handy. A lot of people think giving cash is tacky. None of those people are teenagers. And let’s say two or three people give you cash, then you can combine it to buy whatever you like, instead of that crappy hand-knit sweater Aunt Eileen gave you. How can you return that? I’ll have to put it on eBay to get any money out of it. I mean “you’ll” have to put it on eBay, of course. People say it’s the thought that counts. Here’s a thought – give me cash. There’s no line to buy cash on Black Friday. Just go to any ATM, they usually have the newest bills. Or don’t even leave the house, just write a check. Besides, cash money is one of the few things we still manufacture in this country. So giving money isn’t just smart, it’s patriotic.
Some stores are going to open at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. If you’re going shopping that fearfully early, what time do you get up? Zero dark hundred? Oreo o’clock? 4 a.m.? At 4 a.m. on Black Friday I am going to be under the covers dreaming of sugar plum fairies. Well, maybe not, since I haven’t the foggiest idea of what a sugar plum fairy is. Are they the ones that leave cash under your pillow, or are they more like Tinker Bell? As much as I would love to spend my day off jockeying for a parking space in a crowded lot, I’m going to skip all the Black Friday festivities – the fistfights, the screaming babies, the screaming adults, catching swine flu, the fender benders, the crowded food courts, the long lines at the wrapping desk and the cash register. One woman told me she does it so she’s sure the stores won’t run out of the gifts she “needs” to get. I wonder who is out shopping for the real gift she needs – a second job to pay for all the gifts she bought on Black Friday.
Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2009, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.