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Friday, Oct 31, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Time to celebrate ... Black Friday?

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Boy, it’s here already, my favorite holiday.

I think I like it because it is so American. It’s all about that “Let’s do it’’ spirit and about coming together for the common good.

Yes, I’m talking about that greatest of American holidays ... Black Friday.

When I was a kid there was no Black Friday, or at least they didn’t call it that. My mom and my grandmother always did their shopping on Saturdays, loading up in grandma’s Studebaker and heading off to the old downtown Maas Brothers department store, which would keep them occupied into the late afternoon.

I don’t recall anybody even going out to shop on Friday. Usually we just ate turkey sandwiches and watched a ballgame or two. The crazy day for shopping wouldn’t come until the day after Christmas.

It wasn’t really until the malls and the big discount stores began getting involved that the holiday took off.

I don’t know if this is how it happened, but I’ve heard that an executive from one of those stores happened to be in Pamplona, Spain, for the running of the bulls and he got the idea to open his stores at midnight after Thanksgiving.

We were actually in New York City two Thanksgivings ago to see the Macy’s Day Parade and enjoy a turkey dinner downtown that only cost me enough to feed 200 homeless people. The worst part was not having any leftovers later that night.

Anyhow, Black Friday in Manhattan was something you need to put on your bucket list. We went over to the FAO Schwarz toy store where they had a rope line going around the block. Once inside you had to go down the aisles in a line, grabbing items as you went by them. I was almost gassed to death going into Bloomingdale’s, where you had to make your way through a gantlet of people dressed in black, each one spraying you with different colognes and perfumes.

Today, for all I know, Black Friday is already under way. Most of the big stores have announced they aren’t going to let something like Thanksgiving Day get in the way and they will be open before the turkey hits the table.

Maybe we don’t have time anymore to pause and give thanks for our blessings.

The Christmas (or maybe I need to call it the Winter Festival) already begins at roughly the same time the kids are unloading their trick-or-treat bags. The stores have been putting out their Christmas decorations since Labor Day and other than seeing what the grocery stores are charging for turkeys this year, the advertisements ignore turkey day.

It’s too bad. You might hope that we could at least pause long enough on Thanksgiving Day to give thanks that we can at least still go out and act like idiots buying things we don’t need in one great splurge of shopping hysteria.

I’m certainly going to give thanks I don’t have to be out there with them. Instead I’ll be out there with all those other wretches Christmas Eve still trying to figure out what to buy.

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