Black Friday and Gratefulness


Dawn Hudson

Any time we have the opportunity for a day off from school, my first reaction is to sleep in and prepare for some rest and relaxation–but definitely not on Black Friday. Here I am, 6:00 in the morning, my Aunt searching for a parking spot in a crowd of cars surrounding the holy King of Prussia Mall.

As I gaze out of the side car window, the bags under my eyes evident, I speculate, why am I even doing this? Why, on this day, do people spend time rushing to a hectic mall, overcrowded with ferocious shoppers, when they could be sleeping off their Thanksgiving turkey?

What is with this new idea of waking up at 5:00 in the morning for some shopping deals? Well, apparently this day is not as new or modern as many perceive, and in fact, people have been attempting this day of deals since the 1920s.

Black Friday is a cultural phenomenon that started in 1924, during the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. For over 90 years, this has been the day when shopaholics around the country watch their checking account balance race towards zero. It is now popular throughout America because it is labeled as the best shopping of the year– even better than last-minute Christmas sales. Personally, I think this day, that follows a time of appreciation and rejoice, is quite overrated.

So here I am, waiting in the 30-minute line at Urban Outfitters, critically staring at the two sweaters I intend to buy. After considering, I realize that though the store made it seem like a bargain, 75 dollars for two winter garments is anything but a steal.

Unless I am looking like Béyonce after putting the garments on, these sweaters are not worth my time or my money. Regardless, I give into temptation and purchase the two sweaters. While walking away from the cashier, feeling more ripped-off than ever, I wonder, on a day where so much money is being spent, why don’t they call this time “Green Friday.”  

Turns out the origin of the name, “Black Friday,” has some thought put into it after all. Back when records of accounting were hand-written, the “Black” attributes to stores moving from the red ink, which signifies a loss, to the black ink, which indicates a profit. You learn something new everyday!

I exit the mall, walking at a brisk pace next to my two cousins and my aunt. We each carry with us about 2 filled shopping bags, trying to hide our exhaustion drooping on our faces. Back in the car I perch, my stomach filled with buyers’ remorse and the feeling of being bamboozled into spending too much money.

But never fear fellow shopaholics, American consumer culture has just the thing to keep you from questioning your purchases: more shopping. A relatively new event is Cyber Monday, a name coined and introduced to the world in 2005. Contrary to Black Friday, Cyber Monday is all online, and almost every website offers sales up to 50% off on their garments and include free shipping!

I was still scurrying to click on items to place into my online shopping cart at 11:00 PM, an action to which many shoppers can relate. However, even with the deals and sales and the free shipping, when the adrenaline rush of spending money was over, I was left with the same, remorseful feeling.

I went from sharing my gratefulness and thanks among my family and friends on Thursday, to immediately going out that night to buy, buy, buy, to purchasing even more the following Monday!

What if this pattern we have gotten ourselves into is incorrect, and maybe–just maybe– we should start spending the holiday season with less of a focus on what we need, and more of a focus on what we have. After all, that is how true happiness is found.

Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday did not really benefit me on the economic scale this year, I learned a deeper lesson this Thanksgiving weekend: I should not be spending my life worrying about the things I want and the “sales” I am missing out on, but rather the people in my life, and the fleeting time that should be spent on something deeper than the newest, $50, Urban Outfitters sweater.