Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In the Black

Gray Thursday?
I think this shopping thing has officially gone too far.
I understand the "thrill of the chase" when it comes to getting a good deal. (Actually, I really don't...but I understand that some people really find that exciting.)  I, for one, will NEVER drag my butt out of bed to venture into the cold, cruel world so I can risk being trampled by rude, over zealous crazy people, who are sleep deprived, and suffering from turkey hangovers.
That just doesn't sound like fun to me.

I was just reading the article stating that the mall was going to impose a FINE on any store that refused to comply with the new 
"Gray Thursday" shopping hours.
They will be opening at 6pm on Thanksgiving evening.
Am I the only one who finds this completely ridiculous?
Have we become SO wrapped up in the almighty dollar, that these stores can not take ONE DAY off from selling all of the stuff that nobody really needs anyway?
I used to think people who would get up and hit the sales at 6am Friday morning were crazy.  And then it was 4am.  Then 2...then midnight.
Last year they broke down the wall and crossed the line (in my opinion) and Black Friday was no longer just a Friday.
So....what is next?  Obviously, they will continue to infringe upon the one day that all of the people who work in retail actually get to spend with their families during the holiday season, when they declare the entire day of Thanksgiving fair game.
But then what?  
Off-white Wednesday?
Dishwater blonde Tuesday?
Mossy Monday?
Why the hell even have a "big shopping day" anymore, when the ONE day is just being stretched into what will soon become a week long event.
I actually feel sick to my stomach with disgust over it.
I think a big part of my disdain has to do with the fact that people turn into crazy monsters on this day.  And why?  Because they become greedy...and they just want STUFF.

Ok...let me preface my rant by saying that I realize I sound as if I feel every person who shops on Black Friday (or Tangerine Tuesday, or whatever..)is completely out of their mind.  I really don't feel that way.  I know that for some of you, it is a really fun tradition to get together with your family or friends, and brave the crowds while you get all your shopping done.  I think that is awesome....especially if you actually have a good time doing it.
I am all for anyone who can go out into the crazy madhouse, and keep a smile on their face, be nice to the poor souls who are working at these stores, and have fun.
It is the other people I have serious issue with.
The mean ones who push and shove.  Who are rude and crass.  Who rip items out of other people's hands.  Who have no trouble trampling over people.
It absolutely baffles me how EVERY year you hear stories of people DYING because a herd of crazies trampled them on their way to get a damn TV. SERIOUSLY???!!!  A TV?!!!

If I had any clout or persuasive ability at all...I would suggest that the masses boycott this whole "shopping on Thanksgiving" idea.  I am pretty sure the mall "people" would get the idea that the whole "let's open at 6pm!" thing is a BAD idea if no one actually showed up until midnight.
Can you imagine?  Nary a soul until the clock strikes 12?
I would LOVE IT!
But, eh, no one will listen to me. ;)
What really bothers me is the fact that all of this hype....all of this completely driven by materialism.  Our need for more stuff.
Don't get me wrong...I LOVE giving.  Picking out the perfect gift for someone, and watching their face as they open the package is one of my favorite things to do.  Shopping for that "perfect gift" is also something I really enjoy doing, but only if I have plenty of time, and don't have to fight a crowd to do it.

I have also really started to think about the things I am buying.  So often, I feel like I am purchasing things, just because I feel obligated to buy a gift.  It's not because I think it's something the person I am buying for will love....most of the time I have NO idea what to get them.  I just know that I want to get them I head off to the mall and wander around like a lost puppy for a few hours, until I finally just buy some stuff, and call it a day.
That kind of takes the magic out of the whole experience, doesn't it?

Once again, society has us brainwashed into thinking that this is the way we are supposed to do things.  
Christmas is a time for us all to go into debt. We buy tons of useless items, so we can wrap them up, and pile them under the tree.  More than likely, the kids will cry and make sure to let you know that you got them the wrong thing.....even though there are 34 presents for them to open....but, the day goes does that credit card bill, which we hope to get paid off in time for next year's holiday shopping!
I hope you realize that last paragraph was complete sarcasm...I really am not that cynical.  It does make me really sad, however, to know that some people do operate that way.
Over the past several years, I have tried to really look at the holidays as a time to be less materialistic, and find ways to be more creative, innovative, and personal.  Rather than just going out and buying a bunch of generic gifts, I have tried to come up with ideas of things I could make or create, things that people could actually use or enjoy....and it would also be something a bit more unique than your typical "here is a nice Christmas candle and some chocolates." (Yes, that is my stand-by.  Who doesn't like candles and chocolates?)
Last year I recorded a CD of Christmas piano music...and gave those out as gifts.  I know that I love to have soft background music playing all day I thought this would be a nice thing for people to have during the holiday season.
When I was on my sewing kick, I made lots of pretty hand stitched holiday pillows, or small quilts for my nieces, and some patchwork wallhangings.  I LOVE putting cute little gift baskets together.  It's fun to come up with a theme that fits the person you are "shopping" for, and put together something wonderful.  A couple years ago I made a "pampering basket" for my boss.  She works harder than anyone I know, and rarely takes time for herself.  A super fluffy bath towel set, bath salts, luxury soaps, loofahs, a relaxing CD, bottle of get the picture.....was just the thing for her.
To me, this is gift giving.  This is creating something for people you care about.

Every December, my church holds a special event called "Caring and Sharing."
We have several guests that visit our parish each week for help.  We have a food pantry that provides our less fortunate friends with boxes of food, and other forms of assistance.
During the Caring and Sharing event, all of these families gather for a brief prayer service, and then they get to go "shopping."
In the weeks leading up to the event, parishioners fill food boxes, and drop off hundreds of items....clothes, toys, housewares, blankets, everything you can imaging.  It is all set out, and the guests can come and do their Christmas "shopping" for free.
It is a pretty amazing day.  The church is packed, and the Christmas spirit is alive and bursting forth from everyone there.
I have to wonder....what would happen if every person who spends several hours standing in line, waiting for their chance to get a "good deal" on some item that they probably don't even need, would use that time to volunteer at an event like this...what a difference they could make.

Or, if every person who goes out and spends ridiculous amounts of money on "stuff" would take just 10% of that money spent, and donate it toward helping those in need....what kind of impact would that make?

I think about the parents who choose shopping over spending time with their kids and families on Thanksgiving day.
What would happen, if instead, they went as a family to volunteer at a homeless shelter, or a hospital, or a nursing home...and bring some joy to those who may not be with family on a day that we all should be surrounded by people we love?

I often wonder if parents really think about the example they are setting for their kids.  No matter what age our kids are...they are constantly watching us, and observing everything we do.  How we treat the waiter at a restaurant.  How we interact with a stranger who is asking for directions.  How we respond to the homeless man asking for money.  How we react if we witness someone being hurt.  Our actions and reactions carry a lot of weight...sometimes much more than our words do.
I think the whole "Black Friday" craziness is a great example of that.
Do you push and shove your way to the front, or patiently wait your turn?
It really does become a "survival of the fittest" or maybe "survival of the most aggressive?"
Either way....I would never win.  I have NEVER been good at being aggressive
in a crowd situation.  I just don't have that "need to be at the front and win" kind of drive.  Nor have I ever really understood people who DO have that drive.
They may get to the prize...but is it really worth it?
Eh...I think I will stick with behaving like a well-mannered human.
Neanderthal just isn't in my blood.

As for any shopping I need to do....I have this amazing contraption called a computer.  It allows me to see ALL of the same things I could view at a store (and even some more!) only I don't have to go out into the cold to get there.
I can sit here with my coffee/wine/bottle of whiskey, and shop all day, and not one person will shove me, push me, sneeze on me, give me dirty looks, breathe stinky morning breath on me ( dog might) or any other unpleasantry.
And even better...after I push all the right buttons and order my purchases....the nice man in the UPS truck will deliver my things right to my door.
Seriously....WHY does anyone shop in the store anymore?

Hopefully, by the time the Friday cloaked in black arrives, the world will have come to it's senses, and realized that the Thursday that precedes it needs to stay colorless....and officially closed.  
Yes, I will continue to fight my little battle of gray Thursday....even if that just means I'm the only one staying at home, boycotting it.

To all of those who work in retail:  Your halos are shining brightly...may you all be treated with kindness and respect, and be blessed with million dollar bonuses.

As for me....well, I haven't even really prepared for Halloween yet, so I'm not going to worry about Christmas shopping quite yet.  In fact, I still have the Christmas card/family photos I ordered 2 years ago, but have yet to send out.  Hell, I still haven't ordered our wedding photos, and we got married 19 years ago.
I wish I was kidding about that one.
Anyway, I can't be expected to get EVERYTHING done AND write a blog everyday too!

If you are still on the fence about your Christmas shopping/spending this is some great advice:

:)  Happy Wednesday


  1. The only time I've ever actually shopped on Black Friday was for a 20 dollar artificial tree. At that time, I couldn't afford anything else and I'd had it with looking at my awful "six sorta limbs on a metal pole" 70's thrift shop necessity bought for 3.00.

    I NEEDED Black Friday to even have a tree I could pretend was beautiful. A pretty tree covers up the fact there aren't piles of presents :D

  2. I tried shopping on Black Friday once also. I picked up a few things (nothing memorable) and vowed never to do it again! It probably would have been a better experience had I been after a specific item (like your tree!!) And I agree 100%....a beautiful tree IS a great way to cover up the minimal packages underneath. Decorating and enjoying that tree with your family is what Christmas is all about I think you made a great decision to brave the crowds that year and bring home something special to enjoy each holiday! :)

  3. I agree, Beth. Just so sad that folks who want to put family time first have to go to work on Thanksgiving to feed other peoples need for "stuff." Personally, I'd like much less "stuff" in my life. Thank you for saying what many of us feel!

  4. YES!!! That just breaks my heart....the number of people who won't be able to spend the day with their families because they will be stuck working. I still remember when stores were closed on Sundays when I was a kid....and that was completely acceptable. We have become far to used to convenience, and materialism seems to have take precedence over family values. I wish there was some way to turn that around.

  5. I, too, did the black friday shopping a few years ago. My girls wanted to see what it was all about, and be part of the excitement, so I agreed to take them. My youngest daughter was around 11 or 12, and as we stood outside at Target, she witnessed the people cutting in line, after we had been patiently waiting. When they opened the doors, she (and I ) was scared. The pushing to get in was crazy, I grabbed her to help hold her up so as not to get trampled. We were so upset by the time we got in the store, that it ruined our day. We did get a few deals, but the overwhelming memory was disappointing to say the least, and sad that people acted the way they did. My girls are now in their 20's and refuse to take part in the frenzy. I am glad we did it, and glad we no longer have the desire to be part of it.