Thanksgiving, 'Black Friday,' what's it all mean?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Keith Higley
  • 509th Medical Support Squadron commander
So there you sit, the turkey has turned to a bare carcass, you most likely ate too much, again, despite telling yourself you wouldn't, and you're pondering why once again, we have to watch the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving.

The day most likely started the same as it had for millions of Americans, with traditions that date back through generations. Truly, a celebration of thanks and the wonderful opportunity to break bread with family or friends.

Over the past couple of decades, some changes have been injected into the holiday tradition, and are becoming very well rooted in many American households. It starts with the essential run to one of many convenience stores that are open to pick up the most important item of the day, the newspaper. Some are lucky and it gets delivered to your doorstep, but for many Americans, it may very well be the only newspaper they purchase all year. Why the importance? It's surely not for the Thanksgiving Day latest current events. No, it's actually to get your hands on the two-inch thick stack of sale ads for the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Ah, "Black Friday," the day that affords every American the opportunity and responsibility to bail the retail industry out of the red and into the black for the year. So what's next? Carefully organize the ads, decide what the best deal or deals are for the day. Perhaps like many, you team up and decide on the divide and conquer technique, for others it's all about strategy and speed. Then the toughest question to answer ... what time should I get up to place myself in the middle of the morning madness? Some people are really brave and decide to camp out at Best Buy starting the night before to ensure they get one of the 10 great deals on a new plasma television, even though the same TV will be the same price in six months.

So here you go ... the alarm awakes you at 0430, 0500, or some time that seems absolutely ludicrous to wake up to go shopping. You scramble to fill the coffee cup, grab the stack of ads that have been meticulously organized the day prior, and rush down the road to get your place in line to take part in the morning insanity. When you get to the first destination, the parking lot is already filled to capacity and there's a great chance that you parked illegally. And then the line ... snaking around the building and seeming to have no end.

Oh, it all seems orderly at first, then the doors open. Let the stampede begin ... carts flying around the store like a NASCAR race, every ounce of human decency seems to disappear, and finally the inevitable shoving match over the last Playstation, X-Box, or Guitar Hero. Oh it really possible to fit anymore into a shopping cart? You however, made it through the madness and yes, you purchased another $99 Blueray player, your third MP3 player in as many years, and a stack of DVDs that will eventually grow dusty under your entertainment center, but these were all deals you couldn't refuse ... and none were in the original purchase plan before entering the store.

Now you're back home again, feeling like you just got done with a boxing match and fairly confident you added at least another $300 in credit card debt to your portfolio. Now take a step back and reflect on the original question ... what does it all mean?

Remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving, to give thanks. Give thanks for the freedom we all enjoy as Americans, the freedom that has come at a tremendous cost to many. Give thanks for your family and friends. Give thanks for accomplishments achieved throughout the year. Finally, give thanks to "Black Friday," the annual reminder for all of us to keep things in perspective and remember what Thanksgiving is truly about. Have a wonderful and safe holiday season.