Tag Archives: Black Friday

Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed Black Friday by retailers. This term has been twisted into a pretzel of shopping frenzy, even to the point of bedlam. Wikipedia and other online sources insist that the phrase became popular because the day after Thanksgiving was the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Wikipedia—perhaps a  contributor too young to have experienced the facts—gathered other online information to validate the article.  My father would have said hogwash! The generation before him spoke the somber words when referring to the nineteenth-century gold market crash.

Merchant bookkeepers, literally keepers of financial transactions, recorded the sales and expenses in ledgers. The most common was blue cloth with the texture of heavy linen. The spine was Symth Sewn with the outward corners protected from daily use with triangles of leather. The pages were divided by lines and columns where daily income and expenses were handwritten in the appropriate columns. The columns were tallied down, then across to the right. (FYI: This is where the phrase “Bottom Line” originated.) If expenses outweighed income, the bookkeeper wrote that final number in red. Back then, it was said that the bookkeeper put away the red pen the day after Thanksgiving.

My mother knew nothing of Black Friday. She began her Christmas shopping in the late summer during the grape cutting season or the early fall when cotton picking was plentiful. Long before credit cards when cash was king, she used the layaway program. Back then, no merchant would dare display Christmas items before Thanksgiving, but she didn’t wait for snowmen to be painted on wide glass display windows or silver tinsel to be draped over ornaments hung on Christmas trees. She searched the stores for gifts early. She used the layaway plan to pay fifty cents down and an equal amount every week until December. If she had postponed her purchase until the holiday shopping season, dolls for two girls would have been an unaffordable amount of one dollar every week. She guarded that palm-size layaway card with the diminishing balance handwritten by the store clerk after each payment. Mama paid the last half-dollar while we were at school or playing with neighbors and hid the dolls until Christmas.

Papa kept a ledger of family expenses down to the last nickel—perhaps the last penny. He wrote everything with an indelible pencil that turned to purple ink when he touched it to his tongue. He paid cash for everything. He didn’t Christmas shop and pretended not to know about Mama’s layaways paid out from her earnings money. That kept his books in the black—purple—every day of the year.

 

 

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Filed under Events, Memoir

Black Friday Shoppers

Headlights

My headlights sent a beam down the country road, slicing the early morning darkness as I drove toward town. I parked in a crowded lot, then hurried to claim my spot in the short queue outside the glass double doors of Wal-Mart, the newest, and only, big box store in our small Louisiana town.

Hour glass-animatedThe line lengthened and snaked into the parking lot. Minutes ticked by. Impatient people behind me jockeyed for an additional inch of pavement. The frenzy escalated as a hesitant man inside approached the doors, key in hand. A single click, an inch of space from the threshold to the top of the door jam, then …

Stampede!

I stepped to the right inside, leaned against the closed snack bar, and watched. Individuals raced empty carts like chariots in “The Gladiator.” Coordinated shopping quads split, scurrying like mice startled by a bright light. One raced toward televisions, a second dashed to electronics. The third jogged toward microwaves and coffeepots as the fourth team member grabbed an oversized cart and sprinted toward toys. When the mob thinned, I sauntered the aisles jammed with loaded carts.

“May I get you a basket?”Shopping Cart

I turned to face the blue-vested associate who’d opened the door twenty minutes earlier.

“No, thanks,” I said. “I don’t see anything I need.”

 

At home later that day, I climbed the attic stairs and dragged down the six-foot Christmas tree and decorations. After dinner, I made several additional treks up the stairs and returned with loaded bags. The tree lights winked at me, keeping my secret that I had finished my Christmas shopping months before this Black Friday.

Christmas Tree

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Filed under Blogging, Events, Holidays, Memoir

Thanksgiving travel and one stay-at-home writer

Book stack climber
News agencies forecast 43 million people will travel this Thanksgiving holiday weekend beginning on Wednesday, November 21st. According to an ABC News report, the busiest day for travel will be Wednesday when 45% depart (when do the other 55% begin their travels?).

Yahoo also states that 35% will return home on Sunday and 25% will wait until Monday to return. If 35% are Sunday travelers and 25% return on Monday (35 + 25 = 60), when do the other seventeen million go home?

This year I’ll join the majority who will travel 49 miles or less (or is it fewer?). While others trudge through airports, battle freeways and back roads, and slosh through snow and rain, I’ll be near home. I’ll skip the Black Thursday shopping madness. If I venture out on Black Friday to join shoppers, I’ll stay away from the major freeways, my driving preference, and take surface streets. I’ll be home in time to add more words to Retribution, my NaNoWriMo novel that is traveling this weekend toward its 50,000-word destination.

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