Saturday, November 30, 2013



This is a term I made up just a few days ago when emailing my family about holiday gatherings. Thanksgiving Day was to be at the home of my brother- and sister-in-law, and the following day--the Friday after Thanksgiving--was to be at the home of another brother- and sister-in-law. None of us was going shopping. None of us was driving into the city. All of us were doing our best to avoid the crush of commercialism and retail gone mad that is the early morning hours of the day after Thanksgiving. Sounds like Thanksmorrow.

Black Friday.

Black Friday is a bad term. With bad connotations. Why would anyone willingly involve themselves in such a thing. Look at the company it keeps: Black Death (plague), Black Monday (worldwide stock market crash), Black Sunday (horror movie), Black Mamba (poisonous snake), Black and White (crummy television set, before beautiful color TV), Black Hole (from which no light, or happiness, can escape), Blackshirts (fascist terrorist Musolini group), Black Ops (non-sanction military operations). Well, you get the picture. Its not the word black, and its not the color black, its this particular use of the term to refer to things that aren't good, and that's where the term Black Friday comes from. The Philadelphia Police Department's description of the crowds and the traffic they had to look forward to on the day between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy game on Saturday. 

Folks would drive into town after the holiday to shop, celebrate, have dinner, go out for drinks and get ready for game day. The Phily police were NOT being kind when they referred to the traffic jams, and the unruly hoards as Black Friday. It was simply a bad day on the job. This term was used in Phily by the police in the 50s and and became generally know to merchants and the general population in Phily around that time. Black Friday wasn't a term that was more generally used by the media to describe the crazed shopping crowds on a more national level until the 1980s, and again, with derision.  More recently, retailers have begun to reluctantly adopt the term, which they originally didn't like, for obvious reasons, and now they're using it to advertise. Its a kind of tongue in cheek, "wow, isn't this shopping thing nutty?" thing that they are stuck with, just like us. Like we're on the same side, looking in. But we're not. People get hurt on Black Friday. People die on Black Friday. *

In 2008 a man was trampled to death in the vestibule of a Walmart when 2000 people broke down the doors. 2009 the police are called to control pushing and shoving crowds at Walmart,  2010, Walmart is store is evacuated due to crowds pushing, 2011, a woman pepper sprays the crowd so she can get a Wii on sale at Walmart, and last year, 2012, two people shot to death arguing over a parking space at Walmart. SO this year, Walmart is refusing to be party to this again, and they're closing until Saturday right? No, they opened at 8:00 AM yesterday and they're advertising includes a big ol' Black Friday logo. They even have a Black Friday theme song you can use to get in the mood. I wonder if the lyrics mention Jdimytai Damour, the man who was trampled to death in 2008. He had been a Walmart employee for about a week when he was killed.

Deep breath. Thanksmorrow. Deep breath. Thanksmorrow.

I've used that ugly Friday term for this day too often in this post. Christmas, Hanukkah, the holiday season in general, is about giving, about spending time with the people you love. It can't be the best way to show your kids how much you love them by kidney punching some lady in K-Mart to buy them a video game. For me, I'll continue to stay away from the shopping this weekend, and get what I need on some other day.

Yesterday, after all, was Thanksmorrow, the day after Thanksgiving. A day to get together with family in an even more relaxed fashion, eat left overs, tell stories, eat more left overs, and spend time with each other. There's no cooking, less cleaning, and even more fun.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksmorrow, and I hope you will always have a wonderful Thanksmorrow, with family and friends. Every year.

* Black Friday does not come from the positive, retailers-going-from-the-red-into-the-black, lets all celebrate a positive thing together bullpucky you see on some self-serving sites.

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