Saturday, November 19, 2011

Black Friday, Family and Quiet Time

What's your take on the question of shopping -- particularly holiday shopping -- beginning on or right after Thanksgiving Day?  I am neutral about it, although to be honest, it might be because I've had the chance to shop for presents through the year, and do not see "Christmas shopping" as a hurried, last-minute kind of activity. 

I noticed recently that a LOT of stores, if not ALL, are advertising both special hours this weekend (the weekend prior to Thanksgiving Day) and on Black Friday.  Some are also open on Thanksgiving Day.  One clerk remarked to me that "it's only for a few hours."  I guess a lot of retail employees are grateful to make a few more pennies.  THAT's the part I think is pretty sad.  I grew up during the heyday of the modern US -- and we spent family time at holidays.  Yes, there was shopping aplenty, and consumerism was definitely alive and well.  My family came to enjoy shopping (or at least, window-shopping and trying and browsing) together, for a few years, when malls were the Big New Thing.  And during my early rebellious phase, my Dad and I used to visit the magazine rack at the local drug store, which was the one store open Sundays, while my Catholic mom attended Mass.

I enjoy deeply, time with family.  I love sitting down to a meal with them.  I am not so sure I would relish a long trip to get to that family table.  I also know that familiarity can breed ...  if not contempt, then at least, some disagreement and irritation!  I'm fine with short stints of seeing family.  Maybe that is because I DON'T have to travel far to do so.  Come to think of it, those family that live at a distance, and who are, also, more distant relations, I see rarely or never.  And that's not a change.  My parents used to work hard to ensure we saw grandparents and aunts and uncles frequently, taking monthly trips along the East Coast.  But second cousins and extended family saw one another only at large wedding celebrations or the occasional Easter or Christmas special visit.

Shopping is less "fun" now.  For me, anyway.  I see too much that is "Made in China" or "Made in Korea" or just stuff that is not worth the price tag.  Gosh, that sounds like my Dad in later years.  He was unrealistic, I thought then, about what he thought should be paid for things.  Now I wonder if it's just that our American conception of quality and value has been perverted.  Things that are good for us and good for the world in general tend to be harder to come by, and pricier.  And maybe that's how it just is, but maybe, too, that is how our increasingly corporatized structure is pushing things to be.

Will you be shopping on Thanksgiving and afterward?  Do you think you will find the kind of gifts your recipients will truly value?

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