Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

November 20, 2012

Feeling blue about black Friday

By Mike Redmond
CNHI

— So I'm scrolling through the In Box, past the come-ons for skin tag removal and fortunes in Nigeria, when I come across this doozy:

"Michael, what do you want for Black Friday?"

What do I want for Black Friday? How about that it doesn't exist?

Once I was coerced into going out do my Christmas shopping on Black Friday. Never again. For one thing, I had to get up at 3 a.m., which is another way of saying stay up way past my bedtime. No thank you. If I'm going to get up at 3 a.m. it will be for the following reasons only:

A. The house is on fire.

B. The dog has to pee.

C. I do, too.

D. There's a Japanese rubber monster film festival on TV and 3 a.m. is when they're showing "Destroy All Monsters!" It's a classic.

As if getting up in the middle of the night wasn't bad enough, then I had to go Christmas shopping, "had to" being the operative phrase in that sentence. Sorry, in Mike World "have to" doesn't pair up with "go Christmas shopping" until noon Dec. 24. And if conditions are right, that happens to be one of my favorite times to shop.

The day-before-Christmas panic has, for me anyway, a certain cheerful vibe. Everyone's bustling about in (mostly) happy anticipation of the next day, and the air seems full of Christmas music instead of exhaust fumes and sewer gas.

I remember one Christmas Eve about 30 years ago when I was running around downtown Indianapolis, arms full of packages. A beautiful snow began to fall and I thought to myself, "This is exactly like being in an old Christmas movie."

Black Friday, on the other hand, is exactly like being in an old war movie. People are battling for position, running flanking maneuvers, sending out scouts, trying to capture the high ground, and taking no prisoners.

I realize Black Friday is a whopping dose of fuel to the American retail machine, and don't get me wrong, I am all in favor of businesses making money. I just prefer to make my contribution on one of the other days - Maroon Wednesday, perhaps, or Heliotrope Monday. And I can do it any color of the week from the comfort of my house, thanks to the World Wide Interweb, where the shops are always open.

I also object to Black Friday as part of my blanket objection against rushing toward Christmas, which gets worse every year. The Christmas catalogs began arriving well before Halloween, and the decorations were going up in some stores in September.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving - one of the truly great days of the year - gets short shrift, in my view. I realize it's not as sexy as Christmas and it's not that big of an economic driver for anyone except turkey farmers, but it's a rich and beautiful American day and deserves to be treated as such, not as the day we fuel up for a day of full-contact shopping.

So that's what I want for Black Friday: A turkey sandwich at my house. No crowds and a DVD of "King Kong vs. Godzilla."

What else could anyone want? A little sanity, I suppose. But the way things have gotten, I think that would be too much to ask.

© 2012 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.