I loathe the violent consumerism of today. The fact that, as I cuddle here in bed with my family, someone is getting beat up in a big box store somewhere breaks my heart. It’s disgusting.
It wasn’t always like this. I remember something else.
On the morning after Thanksgiving, the newspaper would be replete with advertisements. My family would linger in bed a bit, looking over the glossy ad pages. My sister, just back from her paper route, would moan about how heavy the papers were with all the ads. Eventually we would get up and Go Out.
Near our house was a PayLess drug store. It never looked as slick as the Rite Aid that replaced it, but it had a little bit if everything we needed except groceries, and a lot of the employees knew us. I bought my Mr. Potato Head there when I was eight.
Around 8:00 or so we would head down to PayLess. They opened at 7:00. There was no scrum or crush or line. There was never a “lightning sale”. There were the usual holiday sales and free donuts. The manager greeted everyone – often by name – wearing a coat and tie. We ate donuts, browsed, made lists for Santa, and bought some wrapping paper. Then we went home for a breakfast of leftovers.
It sounds idyllic, like something out of A Christmas Story. This was about 20 years ago now – not too long at all. There was no Black Friday. It was a big shopping day, and things probably were crazier out at the mall. But no stores opened at 4:00, or on Thanksgiving itself. Someone being trampled or maced in the frenzy wasn’t ever on the news.
In my memory it was a fun way to open the Christmas Season – a free donut, some store Christmas music, and a couple rolls of gift wrap.
I miss that.