I have never shopped on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
At first, it was because that was never a tradition in my family and I was unaware that this was even a thing. Later, with a family of my own, it was because I barely had enough money to put a meal on the table, much less a Thanksgiving feast. Buying gifts would have to wait for the paychecks that would come in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Also, maybe I’d taken the story The Gift of the Magi too literally, but I had this crazy notion that a Christmas gift should be special, selected with that particular person in mind – certainly NOT an off-brand piece of electronics scored in a tussle with 1,500 other bargain-frenzied lunatics.
Now that I am older, (and yes, I’m aware that I sound like the crone on the porch hollering “Git offa my lawn”) year after year, I feel like our society devolves, and becomes more animalistic. The people who throng en masse, through the doors of some big box store seriously seem to be less than human, lusting not for the kindly spirit of giving, but for the carnal pleasure of battle. And for what? They are not starving, or wrestling over the last drops of fresh water in the world. No, nine times out of ten they are gouging and scratching another human over a $10.00 item.
Watching video reports of the violent, senseless way shoppers surge through the doors, reminds me of scenes from movies about the end of the world, about some kind of apocalypse. Webster defines Apocalypse as “A great disaster : a sudden and very bad event that causes much fear, loss, or destruction.” This herd shopping mentality does cause fear (at least in me) and certainly loss and destruction, but sadly, as in Neal Gaiman’s quote above, it is not sudden nor final. This kind of moronic mindless behavior repeats itself over and over, year after year, steadily chipping away at our civilization.
Our “traditional” family observance of Thanksgiving will happen over the weekend, as that is when all the members of our family will be together. Last night, Downtown Dad, Bobby and I had a non-turkey dinner at a restaurant, and as we drove home past the acres of parking lots teeming with cars, an infestation of bodies clambering to get through every store entrance, it was like we were witness to an apocalypse or maybe, more succinctly the annual Shopocalypse!