Black Friday: Staple of the season or something more shameful?

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Story by Bridget Gibley, Culture Editor

Photo courtesy of Business Insider

‘Tis the season, AQ. We’re almost to Thanksgiving break– almost to family gatherings and big meals and pumpkin pie and… shopping until you drop.

That’s right, Black Friday is coming. For several years now, Black Friday– the day after Thanksgiving when stores traditionally roll out sales as the beginning of the holiday season– has been a controversial issue. The irony of giving thanks for what we have one day and then racing to buy flat-screen TVs at half-price the next is not completely lost on me. However, I think it might be a little more complicated than that.

Let me explain: over the past few years, when I’m home for Thanksgiving weekend, my mom and I have established a new tradition in our holiday season. On Black Friday, we get up at 5 a.m., get peppermint mochas, and blast Christmas music in the car as we shop for Christmas presents for everyone on our list. With me not living at home for most of December, this is one of my only chances to prepare for Christmas with my mom.

Of course, we’ve had to pick and choose which stores we visit that morning. We don’t go anywhere near the mall or Wal-Mart. But the smaller department stores have started opening earlier and earlier–most on Thanksgiving itself now. By the time we get there (usually before 6 a.m., remember), things are pretty much picked over.

And that’s where I draw the line. Look, I’m not one for splitting the holidays up and declaring an official end to Thanksgiving and a start to Christmas, but I think that Thanksgiving Day, at least, should be separate. No matter what you think Thanksgiving should be– a time for family, a time to watch the big football game, a time to remember America’s horrible past– that day used to be a day set aside. For just a day before the rush of December and January, it’s a day for cooking, eating and being with the people you love.

Besides the fact that if you immediately start shopping after your Thanksgiving meal, you’ll miss your tryptophan nap, if you start shopping on Thanksgiving Day itself, retail workers miss out, too. The cashiers might be smiling when they ring you up, but I bet visions of something a little more bitter than sugar plums are dancing in their heads.

The day after Thanksgiving became known as Black Friday originally because so many people would do their Christmas shopping then. Stores then started to have sales to appeal to the massive crowds. And now, they’ve pushed into Thanksgiving itself. In other words, Black Friday used to be more of a nationwide coincidence and now it’s a sales strategy.

When I go out shopping on Black Friday, it’s still a way for me to connect with my mom and get gifts for other people. And I’m not deluding myself into thinking that makes me any better than anyone else–I’m still shopping, after all– but maybe we should all reflect on what it is that we’re celebrating over Thanksgiving break.

20707934_1108247292653594_850811117509263327_nBridget Gibley is a junior at Aquinas studying English and Women’s Studies. She thrives on reading, writing, and lots of coffee.

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