Black Friday is everything that’s wrong with us as people. Watching TV the other night I was disgusted by the number of stores who start their Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving day. Listen to the football game on the radio and eat your pumpkin pie in the car because stores want you to line up outside to maul complete strangers in a battle royale for the deal of a lifetime. We are gladiators with corporate CEO’s looking down as emperors lavishing in the carnage they have created for their own sadistic pleasure. We flip on the evening news to see stories of grandmothers being pummeled getting the last Ferbie, while the newscaster seemingly cries out like Maximus “Are you not entertained?”. Neglect your family for the sake of your family is what they want. And the saddest thing about it is that we’ve bought into it. We actually think that by running amok through one store after another, binging on the sensation of saving a few dollars on that item we could have lived without, we will please our lords and gain our freedom from consumerism.
Alas, it is all for naught.
The longer I’m a parent the more it feels I struggle with Christmas. My boys expectations for what they want for Christmas seem to get more lavish every year. And I would gladly and effortlessly go out and get it for them except for this nagging question in my mind. Why? I was sitting in my living room chair talking to my wife about Christmas presents for our boys when suddenly the two of them popped around the corner looking mischievous. They had their arms full of foam balls that I had brought home from a convention I recently attended. “Toss one to me” I told my oldest. He set the others down and after several attempts got one to me just right so that I could catch it with one hand. While he still celebrated our accomplishment, I flicked my wrist and sent the ball hurdling through the air, popping him in the nose. And with that the living room erupted in chaos as foam balls flew everywhere. Visions of a Call of Duty commercial ran through my head as bodies flew through the air dodging foam grenades that could decapitate you in a moment. During a brief parlay in the action I looked at my wife and said “why spend all the money, all we need is a refrigerator box and 50 foam balls. We’d save hundreds”. I spend all this time trying to give my boys everything I didn’t have and none of it is truly what they want.
Why spend copious amounts of money on items that will be stored in a box March?
Why replace household items that are still perfectly useful?
Why show how thankful I am for what I have by rushing out to get more?
Can you honestly say that spending days planning your attack strategy, skipping out of dinner early, and going without sleep so that you can return the victorious gladiator burdened with your spoils to collapse on the couch is the quality time that your loved ones truly desire from you? How would we feel if Romeo pledged his love for Juliet by sending an Xbox One, rather than risking life to spent even a moment with her?
Oh, we are a messed up society of people whose priorities have been so misaligned we don’t even know what our priorities are unless Target or Kohls tells us what they are. There is a deeper meaning behind the phrase “Black Friday” that has nothing to do with which side of the ledger businesses finish the year. It’s the status of our hearts. We are Scrooge, committed to consumerism as our path toward happiness. We don’t need the time around the table with our friends and family appreciating what we have. We need a 70 inch Samsung LCD TV from Walmart for 73% off. And if that’s the case, do we even deserve family, friends, or Thanksgiving?