Black Friday

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Black Friday Opens
the Holiday Shopping Season
By Susan Nye

The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday shopping season.
Sometime in the 1970’s it was christened “Black Friday". Some say the name
refers to the heavy traffic and chaos in the stores. Others contend it is the busiest
shopping day of the year and ensures profitability for retailers, putting them in
the black.

Without question it is a dangerous day to go shopping. All the big stores
promise huge, super-fantastic sales. Many open their doors at 5 am with lots of
fanfare, colorful decorations and holiday songs booming over loud speakers.
Mobs of shoppers with long lists jam store aisles. Jostled by crowds, assaulted
by noise and confusion, shoppers face special challenges as they try to keep
their wits about them.

Of course we might all question the wisdom of shopping while recovering from
the excesses of a Thanksgiving feast and nursing a tryptophan hangover.

Black Friday aside, there is something quite wonderful about choosing and
buying Christmas gifts for the first time. I think that I was five when I first
shopped for my family (but I might have been six). Before heading downtown
I counted out my nickels, pennies and dimes and came to a grand total of one
dollar, more or less. I was shopping on a shoe-string and had to stretch my
dollar to cover gifts for my entire family. At the time, that included two sets of
grandparents, my great Aunt Bess, my dad and sister. My brother was born a
few years later and I made my mother’s gift in art class. Every year our teachers
came up with creative ideas for gifts for one or both of our parents. Our class
photos, Popsicle sticks and plaster of Paris were often involved.

My dad took me to Woolworths for my first Christmas shopping adventure.
With my dollar in change jingling in my pocket, we headed out. My dad stayed
a discreet distant away while I wandered the aisles. For a five year old on her
first semi-solo shopping trip, the store seemed pretty daunting with its bright
florescent lights and many aisles packed with potential presents. I found little a
lace handkerchief, a pin cushion and a miniature bottle of cologne for my
grandmothers and aunt. I called my dad over for advice on gifts for my
grandfathers. A pen and a note pad went into my basket. I then shooed him
away and proceeded to the tool aisle for his gift. Tools were my gift of choice
from my dad throughout my childhood.

When you are five, there is something quite wonderful about giving gifts. It
doesn’t really matter whether your gift comes from Woolworths or if you it
made it from construction paper and bits of yarn, glue and glitter. On Christmas
morning when you present your family with their carefully wrapped packages,
you discover that you are more excited about giving a gift than receiving one; at
least for a minute or two.

For the past few years I have helped my nieces with some of their Christmas
shopping. Now it is my turn to keep a discreet distance while they wander
through department store aisles. A dollar doesn’t stretch as far as it did when I
was five so last year we set up shop around my kitchen table a few days before
Christmas. I pulled out paper and paints, clothespins, felt and glue as well as
bits of wood, pine cones and beach glass. We listened to carols; the girls sipped
hot cocoa and we all munched a Christmas cookie or two while making
reindeer and snowman decorations, picture frames and magic.

A lot has changed since I was five; or may not. Yes, Woolworths went out of
business a long time ago and a dollar will no longer buy presents for the entire
family. But the joy of giving never changes or gets old. Don’t let holiday
shopping and preparations drive you crazy.

I hope that you are able to stay away from crowds and malls on Black Friday,
enjoy the holiday weekend and the gift of time with family and friends,

About the author

Susan Nye lives in New London, NH. A self-confessed “foodie”, she likes
nothing better than a crowd of family and friends around her table.   To learn
more about her cooking classes and private chef services, visit her web site at or email her at © Susan W. Nye, Susan
Nye – Around the Table
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