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Black Friday Fantasies

Every year I think it will be different ...

Fantasy: Leisurely shopping with a girlfriend or my mom, meticulously choosing the right gift for everyone on my list.
Reality: Slogging through overcrowded stores, grabbing whatever hasn’t been broken or stepped on.

Fantasy: A lovely long lunch to take a break from shopping, complete with hot cocoa.
Reality: Mall food-court food eaten standing up (why waste time at a table, even if one were available) and a longing glance at the twenty-minute line at the coffee place before moving on.

Fantasy: In-depth conversations about life and the meaning of the holidays as we browse the stores.
Reality: Yelling over screaming children, complaining customers, and overworked employees.

Fantasy: A shopping ensemble consisting of a gorgeous coat and matching cashmere accessories.
Reality: Pajamas and unwashed hair.

Analysis: Don’t get me wrong, I really do like shopping. I really, really like shopping, but Black Friday has become too much, even for a veteran like me. Why do the retailers do this to us? Or perhaps more important, why do we allow them to do it to us? People are killed on Black Friday. Is it really worth getting a deal on a plasma TV to know that you were part of a stampede that killed someone? Is it really worth it to the stores to get customers in at 4 a.m. if they lose employees in the process? I’ve been pondering this for days, and all I can conclude is that we’re all somehow part of the problem. We all want to get good deals and to find the right gifts, but there are 364 other shopping days, right? This year, I opted for Cyber Monday. At least I can make my own hot cocoa and the folks at Amazon don’t care if I’m in my pajamas.

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