You can’t turn your back on them. Once I turned my back and when I turned back around, Black Friday had moved to late Thursday night and was brandishing heavily discounted cutlery at me.
Black Friday has become Black Thursday Night. And next comes Cyber Monday. The Black Shopping Days spread ineluctably over the calendar, like the ink from the nib of an idling pen — or, for those of you growing up in the Internet age, like the black dead spot on the iPhone screen after you drop it and break a little of the glass.
It scares me.
At the rate things are going, we’re going to start referring to Thanksgiving as Black Friday Eve. “Why do we get Black Friday Eve off?” schoolchildren will ask, 10 years from now.
“That’s a good question,” their teachers will mutter, whipping out their smartphones. In the future, schools are just large rooms full of people muttering, “Hang on, let me Google that,” stopping every so often to go to a football game.
“And why is President Clinton pardoning a turkey?” the children ask. (In the future, only Clintons are president.)
“I think the turkey made a large donation to her campaign,” their teachers will answer. This will turn out to be the case. But then the president will pardon another, different turkey with no Wall Street connections and the mystery will continue.
“Maybe it has to do with the shopping,” someone will suggest. “The turkeys showed the Pilgrims where the sales were, but then they were standing between the Pilgrims and discounts, and so they had to die. And every Black Friday Eve, we remember their sacrifice!”
Rainn Wilson pointed out on Twitter that “Here's what's wrong with our culture. In the press there are more articles about ‘Black Friday’ than about Thanksgiving.”
But perhaps we feel like we’ve already said all there is to say about the Pilgrims and the brilliant idea Ben Franklin once had about making the turkey our national bird.
Thanksgiving, in the grand stack of holidays, was always somewhat lame. It didn’t have relevant holiday songs. It didn’t have commercial associations. That was probably what was wrong with it. You were supposed to go home, in flagrant defiance of everything Thomas Wolfe ever told you, and spend time with your family, a group of people who remember embarrassing, possibly erroneous things about your childhood and have pictures of you sitting on the laps of strangers dressed in Santa suits. Your friends also have photos like this, but they were kind enough to untag them on Facebook.
Thanksgiving is about family. But most Americans hate their families — well, we don’t yet. But we think we might if we spent any more time with them listening to stories about the Heaney sisters’ mule. So maybe Corporate America is doing us a favor by getting us out of the house as soon as possible.
“Oh, I have to leave the house at 6 a.m. to make certain I get maximum savings on Cuisinarts” is a way of politely saying, “Uncle Elmer, if you say one more thing about how bothered you are that Glenn Beck has left the air, I am going to come after you with this potato peeler.” No real person truly cares that much about sales. That woman in the Target ads is a figment of our popular imagination. We just don’t want any more family time, or we think something inside us might die.
Maybe this creep idea isn’t so bad. Do they sell anything all day on Thursday and Wednesday? I have this sudden need for discounts.
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