When I’m asked, over here, with a look of slight shock it has to be said, about Canadian Thanksgiving, it’s always because people think it’s just the Americans who do that sort of thing. So I dutifully explain that they’re fairly similar holidays, and are basically like Christmas but without the shopping.
This, it would seem, is true only for the Canadian version. Because, as The Mom tells me, there are people literally lining up overnight to be first into the stores on this thing called Black Friday, which sounds fairly sinister to me.
The Mom admonishes me for not knowing what this is. Which means that Katie Couric is probably talking non-stop about it these days.
It is, for the uninitiated, the day when Americans start shopping for Christmas and the day the stores stop being ‘in the red’, financially. Apparently.
Now, that anyone would sleep out in the street on purpose is just grotesque to me. Never mind that there are people who are forced to do this because they have no where else to go, but it epitomizes everything that is wrong with American, Canadian, British and in general, Western, first world society. We will spend our time waiting to spend as little money as possible. We think this is valuable, because we’re saving money. Because there are crazy big sales. What we have forgot is, of course, that it is our time that is actually valuable.
Even the Archbishop of Canterbury has said we ought to shop less.
This sort of thing often reminds me of when I was younger, and some of my friends would go to the mall on Boxing Day, which is a proper holiday in Canada, though most of the stores disregard that now. My friends would go and come back with great scores. I’d beg The Mom to take me out, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted but it felt like the sort of thing one ought to do. There was a sense of adventure about it.
Going to the mall, fighting for a parking spot, fighting with other people over The Best Stuff, coming home with the proud spoils of war.
And The Mom, bless her, would resist. Steadfastly.
“No way in hell,” she’d say.
“Over my dead body.”
“You couldn’t pay me enough.”
“What is wrong with you?”
And so on and so forth.
Later, when I was old enough to drive myself, I went. Curiosity nearly killed me. I’m not a fan of crowds at the shopping mall, and have banned myself from the places during the entire month of December because I can get a bit shouty and a bit kicky. It didn’t occur to me that this might also happen in the Boxing Day sales.
It was, if not the then certainly one of, the most ghastly, hideous experiences of my life. I don’t think I even bought anything.
When I returned home, The Mom was in her usual spot at the kitchen table, grinning smugly.
“So,” she’d said. “Buy anything good?”
“It was horrible. Seventh circle of hell. And it was all the same shit they had last week.”
Her look said it all, though I believe she added a few I told you so’s for good measure.
Thankfully, this whole Black Friday nonsense isn’t such a thing here in the UK, though, I’m sure in time it will be. Until then, however, I shall enjoy the relative peace. And implore my friends on the other side of the pond to just say no.