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Holiday vs. Hype

Spend time with family and friends not seasonal shoppers

Matt Olson, Copy Editor

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and lurking just beyond the holiday is Black Friday. Retailers have already begun to advertise for their biggest business day of the year. While millions of families gather together to be thankful for what they have, as well as for each other, millions of members of those families are plotting the best ways to save for the winter holidays.

I get it. Black Friday makes sense from a business standpoint and on the consumer side of things. By the same token, the holiday speaks to our culture of overconsumption. The day after a holiday feast in which we’re expected to indulge ourselves, we’re expected to drag ourselves out of bed at the crack of dawn to buy things we don’t need at prices we still can’t fully afford. Why? At this point, doing so is tradition.

To be fair to most shoppers, the items purchased on Black Friday are often gifts for other people. I can get behind this idea to an extent – going out of your way to buy a gift for someone else is a noble gesture. At the same time, holy holidays were not founded on the idea of finding the best savings available on the in-demand gifts of the season. I am not the sort to call for putting the “Christ” back into “Christmas” – I’m good with the amount of Jesus in my life – but it seems the reason for the season is often lost on Black Friday’s big spenders.

Retail workers are often called in to work earlier than normal the day after Thanksgiving, and various chains will be open on the holiday itself. An article in The Wall Street Journal indicates some stores will not participate – Recreation Equipment Inc., stylized REI, will not open, while GameStop and Staples will not take on the extended hours of other retailers.

The horror stories are fewer and farther between than before. Walmart greeters are not trampled as often as they used to be. Over the years, violence between shoppers has decreased in frequency. Those who partake in Black Friday seem to be by and large civil in going about their business. But is this a tradition that really needs to become an institution? Is that the direction we, as a society, are headed? If so, we might as well let Black Friday forego Thanksgiving.

I’m not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving. The overindulgence on heavy foods and the day’s questionable history have never really appealed to me. This year, I plan to spend the holiday visiting my relatives with my roommates. I won’t be celebrating the Pilgrims’ arrival, but I’ll be enjoying time with family and friends.

One thing I won’t be doing is plotting a route through Walmart to catch as many savings as possible. I won’t be planning to hit up Best Buy for a TV, nor will I seek a new wardrobe at a shopping mall. I plan to do seasonal shopping within reason – as in, not fighting through crowds of shoppers in search of some elusive deal.

This Black Friday, spend time with the people who matter to you. If you plan to shop with them, then so be it. Find all the savings. Be that person, if you must. But at least do so with people who you value, the people you should be saving money on if spending money is how you choose to spend Black Friday.

 

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