A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Black Friday is upon us

It is that time of year again. The smell of cookies in the oven, the sight of snowflakes hanging delicately from the tree branches, a slightly over-cooked, fifteen-pound Butterball resting in peace on the kitchen table, frantic shoppers forming angry mobs outside of department stores. Ah yes, the holidays.

When people think of the holidays, it is usually Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s that come to mind, but there is one more “holiday” (I use this word euphemistically and sparingly) nestled in between all these other important celebrations. Often overlooked, but never forgotten, it is the long-awaited Black Friday.

Black Friday (AKA Black Eye Friday, the Day of Terror for Store Clerks Everywhere, etc.) is the day after Thanksgiving, when stores will open at the crack of dawn with enormous sales and deals to mark the start of the holiday shopping season. Consumers go crazy for the deals offered by their favorite stores, waking up at unfortunate hours of the morning in the hopes of scoring half-off this or that.

Yet as excited as shoppers get, retailers are perhaps more enthused, and some stores have taken Black Friday to a whole new level. In the hopes of enticing discount-crazed shoppers into purchasing insane amounts of things they do not need, it has become a trend for stores to open the night before with discounts, a Black Friday Eve, if you will.

Let’s do a little math here: Black Friday = the day after Thanksgiving, and Black Friday Eve = the night before Black Friday, so really, Black Friday Eve = Thanksgiving. Stores try to justify opening their doors on Thanksgiving by calling it something else, but it is still Thanksgiving.

This early-opening has become an unfortunate trend for stores eager to make an extra profit. Employees who would much rather be at home spending time with family are forced to work, and shoppers eager to buy something nice for their friends and families turn an act of kindness into one of cupidity.

Each year as this trend progresses, Thanksgiving dinners start earlier and earlier. Families quickly stuff themselves with turkey and pie before hopping in cars and speeding off to the nearest mall. Full to the brim and dripping with cranberry sauce, they waddle through the doors of their favorite stores, where they then fight fellow waddlers for that red sweater that they just have to have.

It is quite the sight.

With the astonishing total of 7 deaths and 98 Black Friday-related injuries, the day gets a bad rap. However, Black FRIDAY (not the eve of!) can be a good thing if done right. You have the opportunity to meet a lot of different people and potentially save some money. If you enjoy shopping, this might just be your “holiday”.

Just remember to pick your battles (is that red sweater really necessary?) and do not let the discounts get the best of you. Remember why you are shopping and who you are doing it for, and I beg of you, this Thanksgiving, do not be a waddler.