by Catherine Arjet
I love Black Friday shopping. And Christmas Eve shopping. I’ve even been known to stop by a day-after-Christmas sale. Basically any place where you can find an obscene number of people, Christmas music and deeply discounted prices, you can find me. While many people stay away from these places, I’m drawn to them.
Obviously I love the sales, and there’s something magical about listening to pop Christmas music while clutching half price winter wear next to a half dressed mannequin while the day’s first rays of sunlight filter in through the plate glass window of JCPenney. But I also love what it all means. Sometimes I won’t even buy anything; I’ll just go to the stores to watch this frantic outpouring of love as people purposely place themselves in intensely stressful situations to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. I truly believe that the people who wait in long lines for hours, who wade through seas of other shoppers and who get in full out brawls over the last of this season’s must-have toys embody the holiday spirit much more than those who sit on the couch at home and complain about stores ruining Christmas.
I know this is an unpopular opinion. The general consensus we seem to have as a culture is that these kinds of sales are forcing the holiday to be about material possessions not about spending time with your family or doing good deeds. Really though, holiday shopping is about doing good deeds. People put up with the horribly stressful conditions of holiday shopping for other people. It’s a way for people who might not have enough money to buy all the presents they know their loved ones want to be able to still get them the presents they know will make them happy. According to the National Retail Federation’s post Black-Friday report, the average shopper over the holiday weekend spent $289.19, and more than one in three Black Friday shoppers only bought things on sale, meaning that the average shopper came home with way more than $289.19 worth of presents. They say it is better to give than to receive, and I see this as part of that giving.
Think back to a time when you were a kid and you really, really wanted something but you knew it was way too expensive, but somehow your parents managed to get it. Think about that absolute joy and wonder you experienced in the moment of unwrapping whatever that was. Don’t you want to give that joy to someone else? That’s what the parents who do Black Friday, and Christmas Eve and every other holiday discount day along the way are doing. Maybe they got laid off recently and money’s tight but they don’t want the kids to feel it, or maybe their kid’s a scholarship kid at an expensive private school and wonders why Santa brings their friends better presents, or maybe, just one day out of the year, they want their kid not to feel poor. No matter what the motivation is, holiday shopping is almost always a selfless act and we should honor those who do it to the extreme, instead of mocking them.