Any two countries that share a border will inevitably share other things. Good things like resources, talent, ideas, solutions, recipes. And bad things, like criminals, nuisance species of plants, bugs and animals, outbreaks – and, in our case, Black Friday. It was never a thing in Canada until recent years. I remember the first few tentative ads and sales, and the odd company publishing a flyer devoted to Black Friday deals. It started small. But It didn’t take long to find firm footing here ….
For the past week, a solid third of the radio commercials I’ve heard are for Black Friday events. Every second page of the newspaper features a Black Friday ad. You’re going to be blown away by these rock-bottom prices! You’ve never seen deals like these, and you might never see them again! Black Friday is not just Friday – these sales start Thursday and last all weekend long! They end just in time for Cyber Monday. Which is a handy little contingency for anyone who didn’t manage to buy enough over the weekend. Kind of like Boxing Day, a back-up plan for those who didn’t get enough for Christmas.
Defenders of Black Friday often say that it helps them save money on Christmas presents. This is true for many shoppers, but – from what I’ve seen of the event – there’s nothing even remotely Christmassy about it. People start lining up in the middle of the night, staking their spot in the hopes of being the first to plunge their greedy paws into piles of electronics, toys, clothes and household goods and grab as much as they can carry. They trample each other – people have been crushed to death in pursuit of cut-price merchandise. They come to blows over the last of the $10 food processors, $7 cardigans and $5 Monster High dolls. It takes a special level of obtuseness to link Black Friday madness with God becoming man in his humblest form – a baby born in poverty, to a low-class family, in occupied territory, who would one day be buried in a donated grave.
Tomorrow, news sources will report either massive retail success, or disappointment if the expected crowds didn’t show up. Next week, there will probably be an appeal from local food banks because the winter is coming and the shelves are bare. A week before Christmas, the Salvation Army will report that it has not received enough donations to help all the needy families on its list. The Mission will serve Christmas dinner to as many as they can, but some will be turned away when they run out of food. Perhaps these charities would be more successful if we bought less for ourselves and more for others. But, hey – it’s Black Friday, a great new Canadian tradition! Look how happy it makes everyone!
Excuse me – I spilled some sarcasm on my keyboard. Seriously, try to find a smile in any of these pictures. No matter how much stuff we manage to gather around us, we’re still the same on the inside: rich in stuff and poor in spirit.