Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Humbug Redux

Black Friday is upon us once again. When I first began writing this blog six years ago, one of my first posts concerned Black Friday. You might ask what Black Friday has to do with writing. Well, not a whole lot, but, then again, it could generate some interesting stories and articles.

As I prepare to give thanks for all the good things and the few true friends I have, I’m planning on what I’ll do the day after Thanksgiving. That particular day is now almost a national holiday, albeit without the blessing of Congress. Over the last six years, retailers have ramped up their sales and promotions for this one day when it seems like everyone goes shopping. But not everyone, for I have never given in to temptation. And I'm not any richer or poorer for it.

You see, I choose to stay home, avoid the crowds, and wait until a calmer time, say the day before Christmas, to do my shopping. Seriously, I shop for Christmas all year round. Why wait for the bargains on Black Friday? The stores all have them at other times. It's just that they have everyone trained to think that if they shop on the day after Thanksgiving, that something magical will happen to their pocketbook.

Today, I don’t even have to go out of my house to do my Christmas shopping. Last year, I did almost all of it online in the quiet of my home while sipping a piping hot cup of coffee. And for those of us who do use the Internet as our virtual shopping mall, Black Friday isn’t even that important. For us, Cyber Monday is the big day.

So what does this all have to do with you, the poor freelance writer? You, like me, probably can’t afford a whole lot of gifts anyway. With all the hoopla what has accompanied Black Friday in recent years—there’s always the controversy of if and when stores should open on Thanksgiving. Now let’s see, which one will open the earliest? On the local T.V. news last night, the consumer reporter presented listeners with the schedule of store openings. With all that’s happening in the world right now, how important is that?

Unlike in previous years, no store seems to be staying open all night. In fact, one group of stores promoted the idea of staying closed on Thanksgiving just so their employees could spend time with their families. Sounds great, but I’m sure that wasn’t the reason. In fact, that promotion got them more coverage than that of all the other stores combined.

Black Friday presents lots of ideas for writers, the most important of which is greed. Competition, between stores and between shoppers, is another one that offers lots of possibilities. And for those who write articles, why not find out how this whole blasted thing got started or how important is it to each store’s bottom line.

Look at Scrooge, Charles Dickens' lovable character in his story "A Christmas Carol." I think everyone shops like crazy because they don't want to be called a "Scrooge." But really that old guy was just depressed because the days got shorter and the London streets were dark, dingy, and smelly in Dickens' day. No wonder Scrooge wasn't all excited about Christmas. But through his story, Dickens does leave us with a strong message. It's not what you give, but how you give it. Remember that the next time you whip out your credit card.