Posts Tagged ‘Black Friday’

And, increasingly, this is how many people kick off the holiday season on what is becoming a strange “holiday” in its own right, “Black Friday.” Which started on Thanksgiving this year in many locations. But that’s not my bag. And if you found your way here, you’re either here because it’s not your bag, either – or because you’re lost, looking for the entrance of the Mall.


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black_fridayAs those who have followed this holiday blog over the past two years may recall, I take a dim view of crass Christmas commercialism, and particularly the abject feeding frenzy known as “Black Friday” – that morning after Thanksgiving when millions rise in the pre-dawn darkness to stand in line outside retail outlets before engaging in a mad rush to “get the best for less.” And I do mean “mad rush.” This post Turkey-day buying hysteria has escalated beyond all rhyme and reason over the last couple of decades, and last year, as was probably inevitable, someone got trampled to death.

But this year, things will be different – or so Wal mart assures us.  They’re moving the start of  Black Friday to to Thanksgiving morning, and remaining open through Black Friday.

One is tempted to argue – since the hot deals will first become accessible on Thanksgiving proper (and in limited supply) – that this will just make for the same sort of maniacal rush as in previous years, but on Thanksgiving day, rather on Friday.  Besides detracting from time spent with family at hearth and home.

Sound fun? Sure it does! Why relax and enjoy good food and drink with friends and family when you can stress out fighting the hordes of rabid deal-seekers at Wallyworld?

To read previous articles on the subject of  Black Friday, follow the links after the snip, below.

November 11, 2009

Calming the Black Friday Crowds


A year after an unruly crowd trampled a worker to death at a Wal-Mart store, the nation’s retailers are preparing for another Black Friday, the blockbuster shopping day after Thanksgiving. Along with offering $300 laptops and $99 navigation devices, stores are planning new safety measures to make sure the festive day does not take another deadly turn.

Last year, frenzied shoppers at a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., trampled Jdimytai Damour, a temporary store worker who died soon afterward. To prevent any repeat, Wal-Mart has sharply changed how it intends to manage the crowds.

That new plan, developed by experts who have wrangled throngs at events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics, will affect how customers approach and enter the stores, shop, check out and exit. Each store will have its own customized plan. The hope is for an orderly Black Friday, a seemingly incongruous notion.

The most significant change at Wal-Mart is that the majority of its discount stores (as opposed to its Supercenters) will open Thanksgiving morning at 6 a.m. and stay open through Friday evening. Last year, those stores closed Thanksgiving evening and reopened early Friday morning. By keeping the stores open for 24 hours, Wal-Mart is hoping for a steady flow of shoppers instead of mammoth crowds swelling outside its stores in the wee hours of Friday….

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Previous articles on Black Friday from Simplify Christmas–

Why not try doing some low-key shopping locally, and dispense with Black Friday? More fun, less stress, and the money spent locally will either stay in our community or will go towards helping the less fortunate.  A printable 5-page list of local holiday bazaars may be found here. Likewise, Christmas bazaars, and many free/low-cost holiday events are listed at the SimplyXmas Calendar, which is constantly updated from now right through until New Year’s.

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All that glisters is not gold,
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.

– William Shakespeare

Man trampled to death in Black Friday rush

NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (UPI) — A male worker at a New York Wal-Mart was killed Friday when anxious shoppers trampled him in their rush for Black Friday bargains, witnesses say.

Witnesses to the early morning incident in Valley Stream, N.Y., said the unidentified worker had been attempting to hold back a wave of customers after the store opened, only to be knocked down and trampled underfoot, the New York Daily News said.

“He was bum-rushed by 200 people,” Jimmy Overby, a co-worker of the man’s, said. “They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too … I literally had to fight people off my back.”

Police said the incident was being investigated and the body would be analyzed to determine the official cause of death.

Meanwhile, shopper Jessica Keyes said she miscarried after being knocked down by her fellow shoppers at the same Wal-Mart.

She told the Daily News that paramedics informed her she had lost her unborn child from the violent collision.

“There’s nothing we can do. The baby is gone,” she quoted the paramedics as saying.


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A poem, by yours truly:

Black Friday

Alderwood, Thanksgiving midnight,
20,000 came to score.
Maybe half of them wonder
(in retrospect) just what for.
Considering the three-hour checkout
At the Disney store,
And the swell of humanity
Out on the floor.

But it was okay, Black Friday rocks!
She got two hundred pairs of
Men’s tube socks
(and saved 200 dollars).
Then, while lamenting the demise of
Mandarin collars and
Beige Nehru jackets,
She paused, and snacked on
Pop tarts she bought, in
Shiny foil packets.

To Marysville, he drove 60-odd miles.
All indigestion and smiles.
But couldn’t find parking at the regional mall,
Not a spare stall, at all, forgot the
Damned cell phone, to call and complain.
It could have been worse,
There could have been rain.
Better clear and frosty,
To numb the brain.

Look at the tour bus, imagine that!
A Canadian charter, because their dollar is fat.
Fat and fancy, at a-dollar-seven.
All good children go to heaven.
Where’s Kevin?
Dear God – left home alone!
Do you have a dog, and does he bury his bone?
Like a good dog should, and someday I’d like to
Move up to Hollywood.

– R. Dean Brock, 2007

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I’d like to share something with you: for the first 18 years of my life, I went without Christmas. No tree, no presents, no Christmas dinner. Nada, zip, zero.

I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness – a profoundly repressive religion which doesn’t observe Christmas, or any other “worldly” holidays, secular or otherwise. To a child, this can be deeply damaging, because one grows up with a sense of being excluded, of not belonging, of being cheated.

There are, however, certain things that even the most repressive religion can’t always control. Thoughts, for example, or stopping the neighbor from putting up Christmas lights, or preventing the local television station from running the old Alistair Sims “A Christmas Carol,” over and over.

Accordingly, the only parts of Christmas that were available to me were sights, sounds, and smells. Brightly colored lights on the darkest days of the year. The smell of freshly cut trees outside the grocery store. The smell of a hollyberry candle burning in a local shop. The sound of Christmas music on the radio. And now I realize that these things still mean the most to me, although it took years to come to that epiphany.

I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses upon becoming a legal adult, and suddenly Christmas was open to me. Several years later I married into a family which made a very big deal about Christmas – on the same material level that drives people to rise in the wee hours after Thanksgiving Day and endure a shopping crush, amongst the swell of humanity….

Below is the sight at the Alderwood Mall, last night, at midnight. 20,000 people, all vying for the best buys; trying to get their kid the proverbial “GI Joe with the Kung-Fu Grip,” which Eddie Murphy spoke of in the movie Trading Places.

Look at them. Shoulder to shoulder, strangers, all.

Alderwood Mall, Midnight, Thanksgiving 2007

Photo credit: KOMO TV

I divorced nearly a decade ago, and examining Christmas, in retrospect, it was simply a kind of hell I endured every year, even as I tried to do things to make it better – ostensibly “more enjoyable.” My wife’s family actually gave each other long lists of the presents they wanted, and not only did they have expensive tastes, but they sulked if they didn’t get exactly what they wanted. One year I decided to bypass the bread machine someone wanted, knowing that she would use it once and then it would gather dust in her garage.

Boy, was that ever a mistake – it was the iciest Christmas table ever I sat at.

So, the following year, she got her bread machine, and I rushed around in a painful frenzy of buying, watching the checking account shrink and the credit card climb higher. In the end, she-who-coveted-the-bread-machine was happy that year, even though I wasn’t, and exactly as I had surmised, she used the bread-machine once, and after that it gathered dust in her garage. In fact, I think it was ruined in a river flood.

This is a scene that gets repeated across the nation every Christmas. And I’ve got to ask: why do we do this to ourselves? I knew an old German woman who reminisced about how all she got for Christmas was long underwear, an orange, and if she was lucky, a dolly. How material things were hard to come by in those days, and so Christmas was, for the most part, about experiences. This story is pretty much the same, historically, no matter what ethnicity you query, so, how did we get here, from there?

“Experiences” is the key word. In the past few years I’ve realized why Christmas felt so empty to me, for so long, even though I had pined away for it, growing up without it. Back when Christmas was denied me, all I had were the sights, sounds, smells, and stories of Christmas. And I grew to love them.

When I was married, I think Christmas died for me at a very specific moment, and after that I quit trying to “make it better.” It was Christmas Eve, and the whole family was gathered at our house to celebrate. After the meal, and exchanging gifts, I had decided that a neat thing to do would be to read my young niece and nephew The Polar Express. I was about two pages into it, when an old Aunt, a chatterbox and gossip who simply cannot be silent, said:

“Why are we doing this?”

But circumstances can change, and people can change. Probably not the old aunt: I saw her recently, and she was the oldest, tiredest thing I’ve ever seen, with a permanent frown line etched deeply into her face. However, I’ve realized in the last few years, that for me, Christmas can change. It doesn’t have to be about that orgiastic frenzy of present-shopping and opening, with none of the orgiastic payoff, except perhaps the post-orgy blues and a hefty credit card payment.

But to change anything, you almost always have to do something.

This applies to you who reads this, whoever you might be, unless you happen to be perfectly happy with things the way they are (or if you pretend to be). If you want to change things for the better, you have to do something, or it’s going to play out just like last year. I speak from experience.

Have a Merry Christmas!

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