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The Darkness and Black Friday

Updated: Nov 15, 2023



It’s that time of year again. It begins not long after Labor Day, and it’s marked by loud and progressive private (and some public) fits of whining, random protestations and general bitching about a number of things that appear or occur now until the end of the year.


Here’s an example:


“Did you know the stores are ALREADY selling (INSERT FALL/WINTER HOLIDAY HERE) decorations? It’s only (INSERT DATE APPROXIMATELY TWO MONTHS PRIOR TO ACTUAL HOLIDAY)! What the &$%$ (INSERT ACTUAL SWEARING)?”


Generally, what kicks off this season of disgruntlement (yes, that’s a word) is the apparent premature displays of Halloween decorations, costumes and candy at most retailers. But soon, it gives way to other major (and by major I mean minor if not completely insignificant) rants that will last until roughly New Year’s Eve (in the U.S., I can’t speak for other countries, planets or galaxies).


Here are some other comments we say and hear this time of year about activities and phenomena that are so passe, usual and expected by now that they probably should pass without incident or even comment:


“So, help me, if some ungrateful, entitled trick-or-treater comes to my door and doesn’t act and speak like a college-degreed adult pleading with me to give him a job and then offering to turn over half his first paycheck to my newly minted charitable foundation, I’m not giving him squat. It’s ‘trick-or-treat, please and thank you’ or nothing. And they’d better be wearing a decent costume! No effort … no candy.”


“Pumpkin spice! Who gives a flying @$%* about pumpkin #$*&% spice?!”


“Hey, I love Christmas music as much as the next person. But I DON’T need to hear it on November 1, and NOT on my classic rock station!”


“Oh great, now it’s gonna be dark at what, 4 o’clock?! I’ll be getting up in the dark and coming home from work in the dark. (Mumbles: “$%*#-ing daylight savings time.”)


That’s just a sampling, and I’m sure some of these (among others I chose not to further bore or irritate you with) are familiar to you if they haven’t actually come from your lips.


I get it. This time of year can be a bit much. The weather is changing, holiday stress is approaching, often arriving earlier each year, and we’re one more year into being tired of the overstimulation it all brings. (Yes I believe, at least in my case, age plays a role.)


My questions are: 1) Why are we surprised by all this? and 2) why do we care? These are not matters of state, our overall security or health, or even reasons to raise our collective pulse one beat per minute or our collective blood pressure one … well, whatever increment blood pressure is measured by. But they get to us every year around this time, when we enter a store, turn on our car radios (people still do that right?), or turn our clocks back an hour, loving the short-term benefit (the “extra” hour of sleep) but hating the long-term outcome (several months of soul-shattering, horror-film darkness).


I’m not criticizing people who feel this way about any of it. You’re entitled to your opinions, peeves and occasional rants. I just wonder why it impacts us so profoundly. And, as you’ll see if I haven’t already hit a nerve and turned you away, even I’m not immune to having have an autumn pet peeve.


It’s Black Friday.


Now, this is a relatively new peeve for me (once again proving this old dog can learn new tricks), and in reality, it has little or nothing to do with the original intent or setup of Black Friday as a retail shopping bonanza (also a real word, and a good one too).


And while I can talk smart about not being surprised by most of these autumn annoyances (the pumpkin spices, the early decorations, etc.), I must come clean on the “caring” part when it comes to what Black Friday has become, and that is, ANYTHING BUT Black Friday.


If you haven’t been around this planet for the past 50 years, Black Friday was/is the day after Thanksgiving, and more specifically, the day when retailers open early and provide blowout sales for eager holiday shoppers. (That’s the way it began anyway.)


Again, I was never a fan and never participated for several reasons, not the least of which includes 1) I don’t like shopping, even on days when it’s not Black Friday and 2) I really dislike shopping if I have to either run from aisle to aisle to get my items or wait in long lines for them, especially if there’s a chance they’ll be out of said items when I finally hit the front of the line.


That notwithstanding, I’m fine with Black Friday, as long as both sides – retailers and consumers – are able to pull off these events without incident, injury or arrest (something of a pipe dream nowadays, I know). I simply and respectfully choose not to participate, opting instead to do ANYTHING ELSE on the day after Thanksgiving.


The thing is, right this minute, at 5-something a.m. on November 6, Black Friday is already underway. And that’s my autumn pet peeve. It’s not that retailers have started advertising and promoting the real Black Friday too early, or that they’ve changed the rules of their Black Friday sales, which are actually happening the day after Thanksgiving.


No pilgrim, it has nothing to with that. My problem (admittedly one that does NOT deserve my attention, my racing pulse or my throbbing blood pressure) is that Black Friday (which I again remind us ALL occurs on the day AFTER Thanksgiving) is happening COMPETELY out of its scope.


While watching football on Sunday, I saw a TV spot for a major retailer (who will remain unnamed by this reporter) encouraging me to shop their “Black Friday Blowout” on November 8, which is a WEDNESDAY. (Given their reputation and southern roots, they could have at least called it the “Hump Day, pre-Thanksgiving Haul.”)


But I’m also seeing TV spots, internet ads and emails for deals – so-called “Black Friday Deals” – all over the place, and none are happening on November 24, the official Black Friday of 2023.


Call me a purist, or an old-timer. Tell me my want for tradition or world order is outdated. I can live with that. Put out Halloween candy or play Christmas music way earlier than most of us want.


But Black Friday … on a Wednesday? In early November? I have to think even – or especially – true Black Friday lovers must hate this more than I do. (Though we all know I couldn’t care less because for me, this equates in importance to the International Cricket Council changing their rules on overtime. Wait, does cricket have overtime?)


For the record, I was OK when over the course of three consecutive days last week I 1) mowed the lawn, 2) wondered if I’d find myself shoveling the driveway the next morning after an evening snowfall and 3) celebrated the warm temperatures while ruing the fact that it meant I’d be raking a yard of leaves that I was kind of hoping the snow would cover and hide until spring.


I was also just fine when, with about a half-hour left in treat-or-treating (which ironically was the same night as the snowstorm), two boys I estimated as high school sophomores rang the doorbell. Their candy bags: backpacks. Their costumes: high school sophomores. Here’s the dialogue:


Me: Hey.


Them: Hey.


Me: (holding out a large bowl full of miniature candy bars) You know the drill, guys. Help yourself. Take as many as you want.


Them: Appreciate it. We’ll just take one. Have a great night!


Me: (yelling after them) You too guys. Take it easy. Be safe!


No gruff, old man shtick demanding certain behavior, which probably surprised them. And no entitled, disrespectful behavior from them. To the contrary. They were friendly, engaging and grateful. It made me smile. If I’d have played it differently, I might have missed out on this encounter.


As for Daylight Savings Time, well what can I say? I don’t like it either, but as my mom always says, “If that’s your biggest problem, you’re probably doing OK.” And you know what, if early and “non-Black Friday” Black Friday sales and promotions are my biggest problem, I’m probably doing OK too.


Maybe our biggest concern this year – and any year – should be to get through it all without incident, injury or arrest. Sounds like a low bar, I know, but it’s a start. I find a smile and little laugh also helps when I feel my pulse starting to rise or my blood pressure start to do … well, whatever it is blood pressures do.


Hang in there. Soon, the candy and decorations will be gone, and the daylight will return.


© 2023 David R. Haznaw





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