Lileks: Black Friday already casting a pall on holiday

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 14, 2013 - 8:05 PM

A sea of people gather near the electronics section at Target just minutes after the doors open in Muskegon, on Thursday Nov. 22, 2012.

Photo: Libby March, AP

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This is an issue for later this month, really. But if we all work together we might do something now before the situation gets worse. We have to face this.

There are still some stores that intend to be closed on Thanksgiving.

I know, I know. They’re ruining it for everyone.

Back up a bit. For years we’ve been told that if you don’t shop on Black Friday, you’ve lost out.

We all know what it’s like to shop the week before Christmas and see the signs: EVERYTHING 150 PERCENT HIGHER THAN YESTERDAY.

You have to get to the store and throw some elbows. If there’s a hot toy the tot must have or it’ll be hot tears and tantrums Christmas morn, put a baseball in a tube sock in case you have to take out the lady who’s heading for the last Furby.

But Black Friday is not enough. At a store last week I was offered half-off the cost of a dishwasher installation as part of a Black Friday promotion. At least they’re honest: Not everything people buy on Black Friday is a gift, unless you’re in the habit of giving Mom an appliance installation package to celebrate the season of peace.

Twenty-five percent off hose repair and free takeaway of the old unit? And it’s my size and favorite color! Oh, you shouldn’t have.

Since Black Friday has spread like an oil slick through the entire month of November, they’ll have to do something more intense for the actual day.

Blacker Friday doesn’t sound impressive; I Can’t See A Damned Thing Friday makes it sound as if you have to light a match to check the price on the sweater. Black Hole Friday, where the savings are so dense no light can escape their gravitational pull, is probably next. It’s the sales event horizon of the year!

Once Black Friday bled into the weeks that preceded Thanksgiving, we lost the distinction between the civic festival of fowl consumption, followed by dull-eyed, sofa-bound digestion and the shopping season that followed.

But Black Friday began at 12:00:01, when a few stores opened their doors for people who’d been pounding coffee all night so they could get 15 percent off a 52-inch TV or 52 percent off a 15-inch TV. At least they waited until it was technically Friday.

This must have annoyed some; you can imagine the conversation in line.

“It’s stupid we have to wait until 12:01. Why not let us in now?”

“Well, the locked door represents a general assumption on behalf of society. Thanksgiving is a time for families, for hearth and home, the ceremonial bird, the respect for abiding civic values that reminds us of our shared experience, at least until Uncle Bob gets into a political argument with his sister and he goes out to smoke a cigarette and cool off, and then you hear a car door slam and she doesn’t come back. … But mostly, yes, togetherness. We’ve agreed that the day should be different. Special.”

“I see your point, wise person. Keen is your grasp on the things that bind us together. By the way, try to get in front of me when we run for the Playstations and you’re a dead man.”

But this year Macy’s has decided to open on Thanksgiving, banking perhaps on potential shoppers stuck at home at 8 p.m. who just said, “No, I don’t want to to play Sorry! I’ve been playing Sorry all my life and it’s never enough, Mom!”

Other stores, being run by rational humans who noted the lack of outcry, followed suit. So now we’re in that horrible position: It’ll be Thanksgiving night and you won’t know which stores will be open.

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