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Where is the Spirit of Christmas in the Greed of Black Friday?

Updated on December 25, 2012
This Target opened at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night for the Black Friday sales.
This Target opened at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night for the Black Friday sales. | Source
Tis the season to go shopping...Black Friday deals are here, get out of my way...
Tis the season to go shopping...Black Friday deals are here, get out of my way... | Source

Newspaper Headlines Tell the Tale of a Nation Gone Mad

I saw these headlines in the newspapers the week after Black Friday, 2012.

Police: Black Friday shopper in a hurry shot at car. The author of this article was Michael Winter, and the newspaper in which it appeared was USA Today. The man who committed this crime had been waiting in line for five hours at Walmart to buy a stereo that sold out before he got his turn. He then attempted to race to another Walmart, but pulled a gun on a woman in another car because she was slowing him down.

Here's another one.

2 year old found in Spfld parking lot. The writer of the article is Matt Caron, and it appeared on the website for a local news channel in Massachusetts. This guy was supposed to be babysitting his girlfriend's child, but he abandoned the boy in the car so he could buy the TV. The most shocking part of this is that he didn't even take the TV back to the car and go home with both the electronics and the child. He somehow got home with only the television!

Some other horror stories from around the Internet this week, paraphrased:

  • A woman was trampled by other Walmart shoppers in Germantown, Wisconsin.
  • A man shot the ceiling of a Target in Denver, Colorado.
  • In San Antonio, one guy in a line at Sears punched another guy in the face. The second guy then pulled a gun on him.

And none of the horror stories from this year match the shocking and famous atrocity of 2008, when Walmart employee Jdimytai Damour was literally trampled to death by a mob of people. A pregnant woman was also injured in that mob.

Some of these sorry scenes have even been caught for posterity on Youtube. Congratulations, folks. You are famous for behaving like this. You must be so proud.

Black Friday Brawls

In an unusually nasty twist on Black Friday, Walmart decided to start the madness just a little bit earlier this year. For 2012 the Walmart Black Friday deals began at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. No, Mom, I don't want another serving of pumpkin pie or another hour of companionship with my family. We might miss a really good deal on a cell phone!

The Star of Bethlehem
The Star of Bethlehem | Source

What was Christmas Supposed to be About, Again?

Whether you are a person who gives credence to the Bible story about a holy child in Bethlehem or not, it can't be too hard to see that somewhere, the attitude towards Christmas has gone horribly wrong. In the great Christmas classic "A Christmas Carol" by Dickens, Fred is encouraging his uncle Scrooge to embrace the generosity of the Christmas season. Paraphrased, he tells Scrooge that he has always thought of Christmas as a good time. "A kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time... when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely."

When did the act of buying gifts for this "kind, forgiving, charitable pleasant time" become a crazed rush to clutch greedy handfuls of cheap stuff, held to be more important than the life of the man you just killed in your rush?

The name "Black Friday" was coined as early as 1961; police officers saw that traffic was unusually heavy on the day after Thanksgiving, and their job grew harder. Merchants have attempted to spin doctor the nickname by suggesting that Black Friday is the day when the ledgers are filled with profit - black ink.

But now, apparently, those ledgers are occasionally filled with blood. Even when they are not, the greedy push to encourage us to attend these sales can be very irritating. All through the Thanksgiving holiday I was hounded by advertisements that urged me to focus more on the shopping day on Friday then on the very important national holiday currently at hand.


Avoiding Black Friday and Reinvesting in the Christmas Spirit

Call me crazy, but I think it might just save a tiny portion of the national soul if, one Black Friday morning, we all just decided to stay home. You want to find an economical deal on Christmas presents? Here's some ideas.

  • Visit a thrift store. My family and I have often found charming home furnishings, wonderful holiday decorations that seemed to be brand new, and sometimes even delightful children's toys and games at thrift stores and antique shops. There's more than one way to save money on merchandise.
  • For a variation on that, go to Half-Price books and find an attractive coffee-table book about your friend's greatest life passion.
  • Make or bake your presents. Do you know how to crochet? Can you paint a clear glass ornament and turn it into a unique treasure for somebody you know well? Do you have a favorite cookie recipe? Personal gifts you've made yourself often carry much more meaning than mass-produced generic items you find at the mall.
  • Give the gift of time. Instead of buying Grandma a new kindle, maybe she'd like a "gift certificate" good for odd jobs done around the house. Offer to mow her lawn, clean out her gutters or take care of her animals when she goes out of town.
  • Make homemade potpourri.
  • Put together a homemade family cookbook with all your favorite recipes.

To quote Dr. Seuss, as he shows us the Grinch listening to the Whos sing Christmas songs on a morning when he's stolen all their gifts:

"Maybe Christmas" he thought, "Doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...perhaps... means a little bit more."

(Source: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.)

The crazed rush of Black Friday appears to be swallowing Thanksgiving up whole, and it's tainted Christmas with a tinge of danger and destruction. Perhaps it's time for us to reevaluate our priorities during the Christmas season and remember what we are celebrating and the reason why we are shopping in the first place.


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    • ESPeck1919 profile image

      ESPeck1919 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thank you for writing this, Recapper. I worked in retail for over 5 years, and some of my worst memories are from Black Friday, especially the one where I nearly ended up passing out from being run so ragged. It's terrifying how greedy people can be.

      I fully support making your own gifts (I do that anyway), thrift shopping, garage saling and hitting up local businesses for gifts.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Christmas seems scary now with black friday involve. Back in the olden days, there is no such thing as black friday. Human and ads are the cause of chaos. Your idea is great. A simple gift the thrift store may ubood h

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

      Not the whole world, eHealer. When people act like that in Syria it's because they're trying to get their families across the border before they're killed by government troops. When they act like that in Sub-Saharan Africa, it's to grab food or medecine from charity trucks for their malnutritioned children. But Americans at Walmart for a cell phone? That, you are right, is absolute mass madness and hysteria. Surely these are not the American values we often seem so eager to impose on other nations...

    • Your Cousins profile image

      Your Cousins 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I've gone to Black Friday sales and if you aren't willing to camp out and fight to be first in, you miss the best deals. Due to the economy, we've decided this year to just stuff stockings and provide gifts for the children in the family. Who knows, we might get back to the real meaning of Christmas along the way.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      You are right on the money here. I stay at home on Black Friday. In fact my daughter and I deemed it our "slug day" and we watched movies and at ate snacks. It is scary what some events bring out in people. Voted up and shared.

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 5 years ago from Virginia

      I had a completely different experience on Black Friday at Kohl's. While there were a lot of people and incredibly long lines, everyone was polite and even considerate to each other. It was a very pleasant shopping experience. It seems like certain stores encounter problems year after year. Great article - bringing to light things that should not be happening in a civilized environment.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hey Recapper, this is really getting out of hand! The world has gone mad, you are right, and material item is worth the blood shed and trauma of a Black Friday. I thought it was called black friday because of the crazies in the malls, but apparently it is a retail term that means they go from red to black. Who knew? Great hub recapper, well done, I pinned it, FB'ed it and shared!