Yesterday saw me at the home of my Church friends Jack and Donna for a lovely thanksgiving gathering.
We were Jack and Donna, one of Jack's cousins with his partner, my friend Muriel - with her god-daughter Clare (who is English but currently lives in Italy), and me.
It was one of those fabulously un-hurried and relaxed meals, with lots of good conversation and laughter. I was happy to have a new audience for some of my old jokes.
My next door neighbour is in the hospital, and has been for many weeks. A friend of hers from Detroit is living in the house and doing a great job in disposing of the large amounts of trash and junk in the house, as well as working wonders in the car port area (which used to look like a junk yard). My neighbour is a hoarder.
The friend from Detroit is a bit of an odd duck. She has a good heart, but she easily sees and takes offence when none is intended.
I knew this woman would be alone for Thanksgiving so I took the risk of asking another neighbour named Jeannie who always hosts a large family gathering, if their might be extra food on her table. (I knew the answer in advance - everyone has extra food on Thanksgiving).
Jeannie said that this would be the case, whereupon I said "Jeannie, this is going somewhere. Would you be able to bring a Thanksgiving plate to the woman who is living next door to me and is all alone?"
Of course I knew that Jeannie would say yes.
I saw my temporary neighbour this morning. She was very happy. She allowed that yesterday she was feeling sorry for herself and was on the cusp or cooking a frozen pizza when Jeannie rang her doorbell - with the splendid meal
The great part of this story is that I know my neighbour Jeannie well enough to know that she would not think my request to be a bit pushy or an imposition. She has a good heart. We experienced some genuine neighbourliness.
So it's called "Black Friday" on account of the old semi-myth that retailers went into the black on the day after Thanksgiving, and in a good year would then be assured of profitable returns for the rest of the year.
Now the words Black Friday have taken on a new meaning. It's the day when many Americans are duped into believing that the retailers will offer many bargains and discounted prices. This new myth has achieved such a wide currency that many of the "big-box" retailers now open their doors sometime on Thanksgiving itself.
The idea that there will be bargains-a-plenty is an illusion based on sleight of hand. ( "Bloomberg News" and the "Wall Street Journal" - both entirely pro-business publications - had articles today which exploded the fairy-tale of great bargains.
It works a bit like this. The advertisement may say "was $480, now $320". "Wow" thinks the customer "I am getting a deal". In fact the article may have been available for $320 (or even less) for most of the year - but its price had been artificially inflated to $480 in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. This is an imaginary example, rooted in truth, and created by jmp
If you don't believe me - check out those utterly liberal publications (joke) the Bloomberg News and WSJ.
ALMOST THE END
Many Americans made a pledge not to shop for even the smallest article on Thanksgiving itself. We did so in support of the underpaid workers in retail who surely deserve to have the day off and be able to relax with friend and family. Of course our pledge made next to no difference, but we'd love to see a growing movement in favour of Thanksgiving as a day off for retail workers.
This idea is not un-realistic. For instance in good old Massachusetts Thanksgiving is a Legal Holiday. Supermarkets, Malls, Big-Box Stores, Liquor Stores MAY NOT open on that day.
Business gets by in Mass.
Business gets by in Mass.
It goes without saying that Thanksgiving is not a holiday in the U.K. So why the heck were retailers and the press in the U.K. advertising "Black Friday" bargains. 'Tis beyond my comprehension.