We offer as our primary exhibit the length of winding human chains that will be forming within the next few hours in front of locked merchant doors, some of whom will be opening their Yuletide floodgates as early as midnight — that’s tonight — in order to get the earliest possible jump on Black Friday.
We remember those days — some long ago, some eerily recent — when retailers would open their doors an hour early, or perhaps two, for the convenience of bargain-happy shoppers in search of the best selection for the lowest possible price. Such businesses were to be commended for their enthusiasm.
Then the 7 a.m. opening times moved to 6 a.m.
Then the newfangled 6 a.m. evolved into 5 a.m.
Then the unbelievably early 5 a.m. advanced to 4 a.m.
“Shocking!” came the cry of those who feared the commercialism of Christmas had just gained yet another foothold on American priorities.
“Fantastic!” roared the excited voices of seasoned shoppers who longed to take maximum advantage of a second day off work and to make Black Friday a family-friendly holiday unto itself.
And now selected stores are opening at midnight, a full four hours earlier than the earliest ever of Black Fridays!
For those reading this editorial in the late afternoon of this relaxing Thanksgiving Day, some of you will be loading up in your vehicles within only a few hours in order to be among the first to shiver in a cold and winding parking lot line.
By the time Black Friday shoppers are backing out of their driveways, most will not have fully digested their turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce.
By the time others are wrapping up in winter coats to make the retail trek, memories of the latest Detroit Lions televised boondoggle will still be fresh in their minds.
By the time another select portion of the commercial crowd starts to warm up their vehicles for the trip to Discounts R Us, they’ll still be busy cleaning the kitchen from all the Thanksgiving preparation.
By the time tired kitchen cooks finally slump into a recliner following an exhausting week of cooking in preparation for the big Thanksgiving meal, a better-rested, bright-eyed loved one will be tugging at their limp wrist shouting, “Come on! Get up! Get up! The stores will be opening and people are already getting in line! Let’s go!”
By the time Black Friday worshippers are forming their midnight lines, bleary-eyed store managers won’t know if they’re coming or going, or opening or closing; they’ll just be standing at the door fumbling with a bulky set of jingling keys and hoping their decision is the right decision. We suspect crowd reaction among those standing in line will gauge the appropriateness of their action.
Admittedly, we make light of this new Christmas-shopping phenomenon that is drawing the ire of many. By the same token, the public response likely will be strong as holiday shoppers explore new ways to bask in the glow of an even earlier Yuletide season.
Some won’t bother going to bed tonight. They will rush from turkey dinner to midnight lines and shop until the pre-wee hours of Black Friday. Their undiagnosed dilemma will be where to enjoy the traditional post-shopping breakfast because most restaurants won’t be open at this bewitching hour of the morning.
We wish them well in their decisions.
Likewise, we urge this. In our quest for the early Christmas deal, let us not forget the cherished and calming moments that a family Thanksgiving can bring.
Toys, electronic games, clothing and computer accessories will line the store shelves until Christmas Day, and well beyond.
But Thanksgiving comes only one day each year.
May we never neglect its endearing love.
May we always remember its purity within.