Dear friends, every year on the day after Thanksgiving, thousands, probably millions, of Americans rush out to participate in combat shopping. It is undoubtedly one of the most paradoxical practices of our culture. It is rumored that some people actually shop for gifts on this day. But, I have not seen any credible substantiation of that. All I hear about is how people scored great savings on items they really wanted.
Humans are weird creatures.
The craziest part is the fighting. Can you imagine the uproar that would sweep social media if two homeless men went to fists over the last drumstick at a soup kitchen? It would be mass outrage from people with warm houses and full bellies. So, why no outrage when people, with more stuff than they know what to do with, fight over a toy?
There is some good news, however. If you need to go to a store on what has been dubbed Black Friday, by the time you read this, the madness will most likely have subsided. It is apparently over by about ten o'clock in the morning. For some insane reason, people who can't pry themselves off of their pillows for 364 days a year to do something responsible, are out in line at midnight. Naturally, they are worn out before noon.
Ironically, this is the one day of the year that I sleep in. Today, I made it to 5:45 AM.
So, here is some advice based on my observations which are seasoned with a hint of cynicism. If you are shopping for Christmas gifts on this day:
- First, have a list to guide your purchasing. And remember, no one in history ever died from not getting that special thing. It's just stuff (kidney dialysis and some other medical treatments excluded).
- Second, remember that “shock and awe” have the same effects with gifts as they do in war. No kid needs to be overwhelmed with a ton of junk. There is such a thing as gift gluttony.
- Third, think through the long-term usage of the gift you are purchasing. Will my person enjoy this for years, days, hours, or minutes? If you answered minutes, it had better be fireworks. (Fireworks are not recommended for minors, irresponsible adults, or persons with certain disabilities. Check manufacturer's safety guidelines and local ordinances before use.) - Bonus points if you heard that in Bob Barker's voice.
- Fourth, if you have to park so far from the store that the walk is greater than your daily workout, don't go. This is one of those things where you should just take my advice and move along.
- Fifth, buy books. Books give joy long after they have been read. This may seem like a shameless plug to support my book writing addiction. In reality, it is … no, that's exactly what it is. Buy books.
- Sixth, find the joy in giving. If you are not experiencing joy, you may be doing it wrong. A little self-assessment can go a long way.