Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Kind of Black Friday

I'm not a Grinch, I promise. I love the holidays as much as the next person, but here's the thing -- I like all the holidays, not just Christmas. I love Halloween and Thanksgiving almost as much as Christmas and I like to enjoy each and every one of them -- we only get them once a year, after all! I like to do holidays one at a time, but if you're the kind of person who likes to get into the Christmas spirit early, be my guest. Honestly, it's totally OK. What I don't think is OK is for the retail universe to smother people with advertisements and brainwash people to buy more, more, more! You see, I don't think the holidays are about buying a bunch of sh** we don't need. Did I like opening presents as a kid? Of course I did! I'm OK with kids getting excited for Santa and presents under the tree (within reason!), but I'm not a kid anymore. And even when I was a kid, I was also excited to visit Grandma's house, see my cousins, bake cookies with my mom, and watch Christmas movies. Christmas isn't just about stuff. Even as a kid I knew that. Trust me, I wasn't a perfectly selfless angel as a kid, but I still knew, I was taught, that Christmas is about much more than just stuff.

For me, the holidays are about family and friends. They're about tradition and appreciating and celebrating. And food. (What's a holiday without great food?) What the holidays are not about is stupid Black Friday. Black Friday which has turned into Black Thanksgiving. The idea of shopping on Thanksgiving kind of makes me sick. Why do I want to be in a store or a mall when I could be enjoying a second slice of pie and catching up with family I only see a few times a year? Why would I want to scramble for a place in line, out in the cold, when I could be warm and inside, laughing at my Dad's stories? (They're still funny even though I've heard them a million times, I swear.)

A few years ago, I decided I was not going to buy Christmas presents anymore. I was really into cooking and baking and had started getting more adventurous with trying new recipes. I decided I was going to learn how to make homemade chocolates and that was going to be my gift to everyone I care about. Honestly, it's one of the best decisions I ever made. I enjoy creating delicious treats in my kitchen and as I make the different varieties, I'm thinking about those people I care about. Aunt Barbara's favorite are the dark chocolate-covered pretzels. Aunt Susie likes the fruit & nut clusters. Grandma does not like the chocolate fudge. My brother loves the truffles. Unless they are all lying to me, this is a gift people seem to really appreciate. I do still buy a small gift for my cousin's daughter because she's still a little kid. But guess what I usually get her? A book! (Who's surprised, honestly?)

So if I'm not buying much in the way of presents, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I don't partake in the Black Friday madness. There is only one store I ever visit on Black Friday -- The Bookworm, my favorite little used bookstore ever. It's near my Grandma's house, so I only visit a few times a year. Instead of scrambling for discounted electronics, I choose to support a small, local business. A business that in turn supports literacy and love of the written word. Stepping into The Bookworm is such a different "retail" experience. Yes, they are selling stuff, but it couldn't be more different from any of the big box stores running ridiculous sales. I don't feel like I've sold my soul just by walking through the door. It's a little haven for book-lovers. It's a place where I can trade-in books I'm finished with and discover new ones, already gently used by another fellow book-lover -- recycling at its best!

Of all the material possessions a person could own, books are the only ones that hold any real appeal for me and when I do buy gifts, they are my very favorite thing to give. When you buy a book, you are getting more than just an object. You're are getting a journey, an adventure, maybe even a lesson -- a whole world tucked into those pages. A book is so much more than just another thing.

However you choose to spend Thanksgiving and Black Friday is up to you, but you know where I'll be.

18 comments:

  1. I totally agree. It is makes me mad that stores are open on thanksgiving. I think black friday should return to being on Friday morning instead. Have a happy thanksgiving.

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    1. Thanks Rachael! I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving too :) I'm OK with there being such a thing as black Friday even if it's not really for me, but agree it should stay of FRIDAY :)

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  2. Oh sweetie, I agree, agree, agree. I absolutely refuse to step inside any store on Thanksgiving. Don't people realize these poor workers, whom I might add make far below the poverty level in income are forced to be away from their families so that you can shop. Eeek gads. If we all stayed away it would not be profitable. As for Black Friday and 1am, 4am deals..hey if that is how you want to spend you long weekend..go for it. As for me and mine, we will spend the day in sweatpants decorating our house for the holiday, joking, watching favorite movies and eating turkey sandwiches.

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    1. Sounds wonderful! I agree that it's fine to have Black Friday sales for those who would like to participate, but really dislike that it's encroached so much on Thanksgiving itself. Have a great weekend with your family :)

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  3. I am always buying books as gifts, especially for my nieces and other small children in my family and they always seem to love them.

    In my opinion, as for Black Friday, I don't think stores opening on Thanksgiving is a good idea, but unless everyone stops going on Thursday they will continue to open the stores on Thursday. Plus, if people want to shop instead of eat a delicious turkey dinner with family than that is their choice I guess. Sure it sucks that retailers have to work Thanksgiving, but I've had to work Thanksgiving before when I had a retail job and I had to work Christmas day last year because I worked for a newspaper. Not to mention police officers, fireman, and many more jobs that don't get holidays off so I mean working when you don't want is just how life works sometimes.

    My family (parents, brothers, and cousins) would do Black Friday every year together. It was tradition and we always had a lot of fun. It's not like we would go out and buy a whole bunch of crap. We would buy a few presents for other people at prices we could afford. This year my whole family couldn't get together so we are not doing black Friday and although I will miss the tradition it is okay, because none of us really wanted to go shopping Thursday at 6 p.m. (actually we would have just skipped those deals because it is called Black Friday for a reason...not Black Thursday and we always but family and dinner time before the shopping).

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    1. Either way I'm glad you are spending your Thanksgiving how you want it and I hope you have a blast! Oh and those chocolates you make sound delicious.

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    2. While everyone needs to earn a living somehow, I do think there is a difference between a doctor/nurse/policeman/fireman, etc. working on a holiday (not only do they earn a livable wage, but also not everyone works any one particular holiday in these professions) and forcing just about every minimum wage employee who works for a particular store to work Thanksgiving. I think Thanksgiving used to be one of those holidays that most stores gave as a paid holiday, but that seems like ancient history now. And I'm sure part/full time status came into play as well, but still.

      I don't like to be judgey, but it feels like the push of Black Friday back onto Thanksgiving is mainly the result of greed -- the companies wanting to maximize profits by any means necessary, which in turn fuels consumer greed which is fed by all this advertising which is constantly telling people about all the stuff they just can't live without if they're going to have a good Christmas. AND that it can't even wait until the calendar turns one more day *sigh* I feel a little soap-box-y and I apologize for that, but I've been thinking a lot about this stuff since reading an excellent Huffington Post article the other day. Goes right along with what you said about this continuing to happen so long as people go to shop on Thanksgiving! Also, I used to live near that Walmart where someone died a few years ago by getting trampled to death and especially since then, I've just been turned off by the whole idea!

      It's nice you and your family have a Black Friday tradition, but it's on FRIDAY which makes sense to me :) Even if it is not for me, I totally get why Black Friday shopping is enjoyable for a lot of people as the unofficial kick-off of the holiday season.

      I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too (and yes, those chocolate are yummy if I do say so myself!)

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    3. Oh and don't books make the greatest gifts? I love picking out books for little kids in the hopes of nurturing a love of reading -- it's like a challenge to find the right book for a particular person. And I'm sure your nieces will appreciate such thoughtful gifts from you, especially as they get older :)

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  4. Oh I totally think it should be only on Friday. I agree too that I think it has to do with greed.

    Oh and if they do have to work on Thanksgiving they should get paid more but sometimes that isn't the case. My friend works at Best Buy this Thanksgiving and he said he is at least making a lot because he still gets paid holiday time which is time and a half, but I know places probably like Wal-Mart don't do that. But yes, he says it's mandatory to work Thanksgiving which is the part that sucks, but he is glad to be making more. So good points there Christine, I didn't even think of that, hence why I was asking my friend. Also, my husband used to work at Sears and he would make a lot of money off commission on black Friday so he didn't mind. But I guess these are younger people I'm talking about, unlike the ones that perhaps have children or are older and would rather be spending their holiday with family. Therefore, it still sucks when they don't get paid more to work a holiday and when it is mandatory and hard to get out of working it, because people should get a chance to spend time with their family on the holidays. I had to work Christmas all day last year for the local newspaper, but I at least got paid more to do it and someone had to be there, but not everyone was forced to work that day, there were only a few of us. I was just newer and drew the short straw and had to go in.

    I was just thinking that I feel like people don't care so much about Thanksgiving anymore and that just makes me sad. Who doesn't love a day to spend with family, give thanks, and eat a lot? I know I do. If only no one would shop on Thanksgiving we could go back to the way it used to be just on Friday and I think everyone would be happier all around. (Except maybe those pesky big companies.)

    Have a great Thanksgiving Christine! I loved that we could talk about this! It made me think and I love getting others opinions. I'm done rambling on now. lol

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    1. Making someone work a holiday AND not paying overtime or holiday time is just awful - I hadn't even thought of that! Whenever I worked a holiday in the past, I always got paid time and a half as compensation.

      I used to work at a nursing home in the recreation department and for most holidays, we only needed to have one person work. Christmas though was one of the holidays where we had a big event on the day of the holiday rather than before-hand, so more than one person worked. The nice thing though was that it was a Jewish facility and our fairly small department was made up of a mix of faiths, so we were able to work things out to make it as fair as we could for everyone. I always worked the Passover seders, so I never had to work Christmas or Easter. I volunteered to work Mother's Day & Father's Day because I didn't have kids and could celebrate with my parents on Saturday instead. In the end, most of us worked 2 (at most 3) holidays, but for the most part no one got stuck working one of the major holidays that they celebrate. And if you were the one person who got stuck with Thanksgiving or New Year's Day one year, you wouldn't have that same holiday for many more years as other people would take a turn. Obviously that system can't work everywhere, but I was grateful that even though I had a job that required working on holidays, we were able to work out a fair schedule.

      I agree it is sad that not as many people care about Thanksgiving anymore. There was this incredible political cartoon in our newspaper this past weekend depicting an angry, ravenous Santa Claus with the word "Holiday Shopping" on his cap sitting down with knife and fork looking ready to devour a Thanksgiving turkey which had the words Tradition, Family Values, & Memories printed on it -- my description doesn't really do it justice, but it made a point in such a visual and striking way (I wanted to link to it, but it won't open up properly on the newspaper's site)

      And I'm so glad this post generated so much discussion! Rambling is totally allowed. I love sharing & discussing ideas with you guys :)

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  5. You forgot to mention how much your best friend loves truffles of all kinds & chocolate covered pretzels. Just in case you forgot. ;-)

    I am really into the Christmas mood this year. I actually started working on the handmade portion of my Christmas gifts tonight. (Hence me being up at 1AM reading your blog). But they are really awesome & came out just as I expected, so that made me really happy.

    I actually did go out on Thanksgiving last year. James & I were heading back to Queens at like 9PM & decided to check out the new stores in Westbury that were opening at like 10PM. We really just wanted to see what it was like. I was quite shocked & impressed at how quiet it was there. It didn't seem like they were attracting much attention though, which I had hoped meant they would be closed this year. Alas, it does not seem that this is the case.

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    1. Haha, no I didn't forget :) And handmade gifts are awesome. I'm almost into the Christmas mood, but I'm trying to hold out another 2 days, lol. I got a bunch of Christmas books from the library and am itching to read them since I just finished a non-Christmas book.

      And I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad to hear how empty it was last year -- on the one hand it's nice that most people in that area decided to stay home on Thanksgiving, on the other hand all those people had to work last year (and this year!) seemingly for no reason! And I'm sure since you were just passing by, it wouldn't have bothered you guys if they weren't open -- it's the convenience factor, if you're done celebrating and places are open, people will go. I think a lot of stores underestimate people's patience -- if they weren't open, people would just go Friday!



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    2. It was pretty much a decision of "Traffic is going to be really crappy. Maybe we'll stop by and see how the stores are doing so we don't have to deal with traffic." We didn't even buy anything. (Although if they had the cute shoes that I was looking for, I totally would have bought them." But I agree, it was like "Oh, awesome, there's not a ton of people here. But these people are here for no real reason and that sucks."

      I know my dad & Jane used to go crazy over Black Friday, but that was mostly because they were buying toys for 3 little girls & had me to babysit. They don't do it anymore because my sisters are more likely to ask for clothes than toys now & my dad has said that even if they did, they would not be out on Thanksgiving night. But I think for some people, being able to get that toy that your child really wants at a super discounted price can be beneficial. I remember the year that Santa brought me a new VCR & a boom box with CD player (which I only got rid of when I moved out). I knew mom could never afford that for me, but Santa could bring it. It was the best Christmas ever.

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  6. I thought for a while whether I should comment here because I can be very strongly opinionated against all kinds of overconsumption.. Needless to say I never shop during any kind of holidays (we don't have Thanksgiving or Black Friday here in Finland), and this year I also intend to make chocolate as gift. I had the idea already earlier, but when I read that you Christine do that as well, it made me really happy!

    The thing about gift giving is that I don't really mind getting gifts from shops for people, I have gotten many lovely (and pricey) gifts - like camera, music player, Kindle, laptop - but these have always been requested and highly anticipated. Unfortunately, whenever I ask someone from my family to give a hint of what they would like to receive as gifts, there is some weird mumble of "oh I don't need anything... I don't know... something cheap..." :o Thanks, people, you know I have to get some gift anyway, so this is not helpful, really. :p

    So I figured I'll start giving consumable things too - like chocolate truffles. Something a bit more special than your regular chocolate bought from store, and hand-made, that should be a nice gift.

    I would LOVE to gift books, but this is complicated because reading is not a priority thing for anyone in my family, plus I live abroad, which means I don't have access (reasonably priced access, anyway) to Estonian-language books, and they don't really read in any other language.

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    1. Obviously I can be quite opinionated too, lol! My intention was never to make anyone feel bad (and hopefully I didn't), but to share my own feelings about this upcoming holiday. Like I said in another comment, there was a person trampled to death at a store right near my old apartment the year we moved there on Black Friday, and if that doesn't highlight the madness that this day CAN be, I don't know what does! So it's interesting to me to hear there is no Black Friday in Finland -- sounds right up my alley....

      And that's so fun that you do chocolate gifts as well! I am a firm believer that it is the thought that counts and taking time to make something by hand takes a lot of thought and care and people appreciate that. It feels more special in a world where you can buy literally anything if you wanted to. Before I made chocolates, I often made handmade ornaments as a kid -- back then I didn't have the money to buy gifts even if I wanted to, but liked that I could make a gift using a few craft supplies that they still hang on their trees today.

      Another reason I like doing homemade gifts is because I really felt like I still wanted to give gifts, but most of my family said the same thing "I don't know what I want...I don't need anything...etc, etc" and it just seemed so silly to buy a gift just for the sake of doing so or as an obligation. (I always brought some chocolates in for my co-workers at my old job as well and when I told them I was leaving, the first thing they said was, "What, no more Christmas chocolates?!?" lol) My best friend and I don't even do birthday presents anymore -- we usually just bake cookies and get together to do something, because guess what? After 22 years of friendship we don't want/need anything either!

      And you are right that book giving can be complicated if those you would buy gifts for aren't readers! My family does read a lot, so it's definitely easier to find a book for most of them, if I wanted to. Also, I find books for little kids to be fairly easy if I know what they're interested in -- and kids books are so fun!

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  7. As if I haven't said enough already, I think it's also worth noting that I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with people (or myself) buying things. We all buy things and no matter how I justify it, or how "worthy" I think such a purchase is, I know I buy too many books. What I find most disheartening at this time of the year is the push, push, push by the retail world to make the holidays more about shopping than anything else. Pushing shopping for the next holiday right on top of the current one as if that one doesn't count. I am so glad to hear about all of your different traditions -- such a different picture of the holidays than the one that advertisers sell. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving & if you are braving the mall on Black Friday, stay safe -- it's a crazy world out there! Thanks so much for such a lively discussion :)

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  8. So, so true! I think it's sad that Christmas has become so commercial and all the materialism of 'buy this', 'buy that' seems to start earlier and earlier every year! Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas - spending time with family, picking gifts for people they'll love and Christmas movies - I've actually just had a lovely afternoon watching Arthur Christmas. What I don't like is seeing shops pushing Christmas from October onwards and the frenzy people get into in the shops this time of year...Christmas is about family. Though I'm not going to lie, the food and sweets are pretty awesome too. :-)

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I'd love to hear what you think :)