Black Friday

Yes, I know it’s Thanksgiving.  Following fast on its heels, though, with millions camping out or already queuing up in lines for the best deal of the season, comes one of the most turbulent days of the year: a veritable free for all.

I find Black Friday terrifying.  Granted, in my area, it’s not quite so bad…we’re not likely to make the national, or even the local news with some large shopping scandal wherein someone is trampled to death, hospitalized, or violently assaulted in the name of buying a small, “must-have” toy for a child or getting the best price on some flat screen T.V.  Thank goodness for rural areas.

Even still, on Black Friday I stay home, only entering the morass of humanity when spurred by the coercive desire to earn a paycheck.  To be perfectly honest, the days, nay, weeks before Black Friday I like to emulate the local squirrels: while they’re bouncing about collecting seeds and nuts I’m stocking up on hygiene supplies, food, and anything else I might need to weather the hectic holiday shopping season.  If at all possible, I want to avoid the stores until mid-January.  I’ve always abhorred large crowds, with the feeling of other peoples’ bodies bludgeoning into mine, the half-hour plus waiting lines, the inevitable shopping cart collisions.  Saving money, while desirable, takes backseat to avoiding the chaos of clustering, desperate hoards of humanity.

Not that I don’t like people.  I just prefer them in smaller numbers.  I’m a one on one, small group of close friends or friendly acquaintances type of person.

Anyway, although I’m not agoraphobic, exactly, or even claustrophobic by any technical definition, there’s something disturbing about large groups of people engaging in the good ol’ holiday shopping pastime.  Maybe it’s the fact that in their desire to set-up the perfect holiday for those precious to them they seem to forget exactly what the holidays are about.  I’m just not sure that Timmy having the latest gadget that he’s been begging for all week is the most important thing ever.  It certainly doesn’t seem important enough to brawl about in the middle of a store aisle or parking lot, and I’m positive there can’t be any reasonable justification for teaching little Timmy that obtaining the material joys of life somehow trumps civility or respect for one’s fellows.

Every holiday season someone somewhere is overspending, stressing over the perfect day, or transforming into a harrowed specter of themselves.  When the beautiful, anticipated day finally comes and everything is set more than a few are miserable.  The glowing warmth of the ideal string of lights, hung just so, won’t stop the chill felt when one family member carps at another about their life choices, the slavishly cooked meal and carefully selected presents will not stop someone from complaining or expressing disappointment.

Is it really worth it?  Wouldn’t it be easier to relax, have fun, and do it together rather than being too exhausted and stressed when the day comes to really enjoy yourself?  Holidays aren’t perfect or horrible because someone forgot to bring the eggnog; they’re good or bad depending on the people they are shared with.  So go share them with someone you actually care about already!