DEBORAH CROMBIE: Now that Black Friday is--thankfully--over, how many of you got out there and pushed, shoved, and trampled to get that bargain?
For curiosity's sake, I looked up the origin of the term. Here's what Wikipedia says: The first mention of Black Friday referring to shopping the day after Thanksgiving occurred in Philadelphia in 1961. "For downtown merchants throughout the nation, the biggest shopping days normally are the two following Thanksgiving Day. Resulting traffic jams are an irksome problem to the police and, in Philadelphia, it became customary for officers to refer to the post-Thanksgiving days as Black Friday and Black Saturday."
But did you know that it was not until 2005 that the day after Thanksgiving actually became the biggest retail sales day of the year?
Okay, so I have a confession. I don't think I have ever shopped for anything on Black Friday. I usually try not to go out of the house, because I don't want to get stuck in a traffic jam, or be run into by one of those shoppers still fueled by adrenaline and shopping rage. I wonder how much money people actually end up saving, and how much of the shopping is actually for gifts? Honestly, I suspect that in many cases, it's not about the money at all, but about competitiveness. I'm still horrified by the case of the Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death in 2008 in Valley Stream, New York. The mob refused to let other employees render aid to their stricken colleague, because they didn't want to miss a bargain...
How did this day that is supposed to be associated with Christmas gift giving become an outlet for the worst side of human nature?
So, fellow REDS, do you venture out on Black Friday? AND how much of your Christmas shopping have you done? And where and how will you do it?
(I'm dying to know who is the organized shop-throughout-the-year RED, and who is the last-minute-panic RED!) Fess up! I'll go first.
DEBS: How much shopping have I done? None. Zero. Zilch. I have, however, looked at some catalogs, and started to think about it. I'll order some things online. I'll buy some books, I'm sure. And I'll try to do at least a little shopping at my local stores on the town square. We've never been a family to go in for high-dollar gifts at Christmas (do you actually know anyone who buys a new car as a gift? Or diamonds? Or any of those things the TV ads would convince you EVERYONE buys??) Even as a child my favorite gifts were books and records. Now I try to find little things that the recipients will enjoy. My daughter and I are both into foodie stuff, and always have a great time shopping for each other. Neither of us can keep a secret, however, so we always know what we're getting! The hubby always want socks, and very thoughtfully puts up a wish list on Amazon:-)
HALLIE EPHRON: I hate shopping and I hate crowds. So no. If Black Friday depended on me, it would very rapidly go extinct.
This year, our Christmas present to ourselves is a week in a condo on Sanibel Island in Florida with our kids. I'm GETTING as well as giving, because nothing is more precious to me than time I can spend with my girls, my son in law, and my grandbaby.
I've pretty much abandoned other gift giving, other than Christmas morning stocking stuffers. Some of it I make (candy), some I buy (bottles of weird colored nail polish and sparkly eye shadow), and always a magazine to read Christmas morning. None of us needs more "stuff."
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I thought they called it Black Friday because it's the day that puts the stores' books in the black, financially. Right?
I would no more go shopping on Black Friday than..well, I can't even think of a reason I'd do it. Never, no way, no how. (I am doing the second-to-final edits of TRUTH BE TOLD, and very happy about that. Shopping for better words.)
Gifts? I stink. My problem is, I buy things whenever I see them--oh, that'd be perfect for my agent! Then I forget where I put them.
Conversation in early December:
Hank: What present do you want, honey?
Hank: Me, either. We have everything.
Conversation on Dec 25:
Hank: No presents! Rats!
Jonathan: Yeah, what happened??
It's all very complicated.
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I hate shopping and I hate crowds, so the idea of Black Friday fills me with horror and dread. I don't think anyone could pay me to go out and face those sales.
However, I have no issue doing holiday shopping via the internet, because it eliminates the crowd issue. Also, I'm really only shopping for the kiddo, so it's pretty fun — and he still believes in Santa, bless him!
Noel and I are in savings mode, so we usually give each other funny socks. It's nice because it's not a huge amount of money or hard to do, and you still have a package to open on Christmas Day. Socks I've bought for Noel in the past have had maps of the NYC Subway system, the Tower of London, and Oscar the Grouch.
And Miss Edna will be getting some nice PJs, a new robe, and slippers.
I remember one year the kiddo asked me, "Mommy, what do you want most for Christmas?"
And I replied, "Peace of mind."
And then he said, "OK, I'll give you back a piece of your mind."
RHYS BOWEN: Hank, I can relate to that dialog so much. John and I go through the same thing. And he's especially bad. If he wants something, he goes out and buys it instantly. Even if it's three days before his birthday. I do like to open presents, but it can be something really small and simple. It's the thought that counts... unless it's a surprise gift of diamonds. Then it's the diamond that counts.
There is nothing in the universe I want or need badly enough to make me fight crowds and stand in line on Black Friday. We spent the morning at the Musical Instrument Museum where the kids played on every kind of instrument for hours, then we are going to a Cowboy place to eat barbecue under the stars--far from the Madding crowds.
LUCY BURDETTE: Ohhhh, barbecue, my favorite! I buy things all along as the year goes by. My mother was a huge believer in fat stockings and I can't quite shake the habit. I find it fun to try to think about what special things people would like. Of course, the closer their taste is to mine, the easier it is! And always books, lots of books. But not on Black Friday...
DEBS: Hank, you crack me up. We had a similar conversation one year.
Rick: Let's agree we won't do anything for Christmas this year. We don't need to spend the money.
Me: (Reluctantly.) Well, okay.
Skip to Christmas morning. Not a single present for me under the tree. Not a single one. I had, of course, bought and wrapped little gifts. Nothing EXPENSIVE, that being the point, right?
Me: (in tears) You didn't get me anything! Not a book or a CD or even a movie!
Rick: (irate) But you said we weren't going to do Christmas!
Translation: A big failure of communication here. In my view, there should always be something to unwrap or put in a stocking, even if it is a $5 gift from Big Lots (right down the street!)
Conclusion: Now I make a list. (This year it's The Hobbit, extended edition, on Blu-ray. No misunderstanding allowed.)
And I have to confess I fibbed about the "no big gift" thing. Last year Rick surprised me with a Galaxy tablet. I LOVE it. It's sitting right next to me now and I don't know how I ever did without it. I guess that makes up for the no-gift Christmas...
Susan, do I have SOCKS for you! A friend gave me these a few years ago, and now I give them to everyone, and buy a couple of new pairs for myself. They are the best socks in the world, and they are incredibly fun and hold up through countless washings and dryings. It's Socklady.com. Solmate Mismatched Socks.
READERS, what about you? Did you brave Black Friday? Is your shopping done or not even contemplated?