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Today: Black Thursday. Tomorrow: "ShoppingMas"

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader


I spent what is probably my last Thanksgiving off (until I get a non-retail job) home, stuffing my face, watching season six of The Office, and just relaxing. Meanwhile, Americans camped out in front of stores, waiting for a 6 p.m. Thanksgiving opening time.

The phenomenon of “Black Thursday” made me remember the Thanksgivings of years ago, when if you didn't get to the store by Wednesday night at 6 p.m., you had to wait until Friday for whatever it is you thought you needed. Then, the time got pushed back. Then, the grocery stores were open on Thanksgiving. Now, it's “stuff” stores that are opening. We can't have one day out of the year where we can't go shopping? Apparently not. $10 DVD players and $2 DVDs and bistro sets for $99 and one cent cellphones are too much of a lure. And after the summer I went through, it would have made perfect sense that I'd have scoped out the best deals and went shopping like Imelda Marcos on blow.

But I didn't. Having lived on the financial edge for the better part of four years, I've learned a little bit more about money, and needs, and wants. I haven't watched commercial television at home in over a year. I have plenty of DVDs of movies and television shows that I play when I need distraction or white noise. I've looked at some scary situations right in the face, and going out on a shopping spree feels like throwing money down the toilet. I've gotten so guilty about money I feel horrible about spending $20 on makeup twice a year. I find myself trying to justify the smallest purchase. Should I buy that Rice Krispie treat even though it's $1.35 out of the vending machine? I could go to Aldi's and get a box of them for that price!

I realize some people on very tight budgets look forward to Black Friday for deals they might not get otherwise. But what bothers me is the destruction of Thanksgiving. If you work retail, that's one more day you'll be working. And yes, one could argue that police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses and hospital staff (as well as hotel workers and people who work in restaurants) have to work as well. It's one thing to save a life, but quite a different thing to serve a meal or sell stuff to people. People don't HAVE to eat out on Thanksgiving, but they do (and I have, at least once). But buying stuff on Thanksgiving? I remember a former co-worker from years ago say he might want to check out K-mart after Thanksgiving dinner because the day sometimes gets “boring.” Are you F-ing kidding me?

It's part of what drives me nuts about Americans. We can't be introspective, or tear our eyes away from the smartphones, or refrain from buying something for one damn day. I mentioned at work that the next holiday to go would be Christmas. A co-worker completely misunderstood me, thinking that I was merely ticking off the list of holidays. I said no, Christmas would be the next holiday where stores would be open, and it would be just like any other day. I said in five years it would happen. I even bet her $100, but she agreed with me that it would happen.

And like school shootings, we don't much care. Children born today might have the day off, but maybe mom and dad won't. Babysitters will have to be arranged, and Thanksgiving dinner might take place all day, in shifts. Or maybe some other day will be arranged, where everyone puts in for that one day off and Thanksgiving might take place on some generic Tuesday sometime between what used to be Thanksgiving, and what future anthropologists will call “ShoppingMas.”

As for me, I spent Thanksgiving alone. It's not what I envisioned in my twenties, that's for sure. Back then, it was a house that smelled like turkey, a leisurely meal followed by a viewing or two of “A Christmas Story” and lots of picture taking. Those days seem impossible now, and incredibly poignant. And I see people on Facebook talking about the crap they bought. Fortunately for them, Thanksgiving is gone, and there's an extra day to shop.

And don't get me started on what I want for Christmas. What I want can't be purchased.

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