Christmas arrived on Thanksgiving for sure this year.
Oh, it might have seemed like it in previous years. After all, about the same time the turkey goes into the oven in the wee hours of Thanksgiving each year, someone needs to run out and secure a copy of the five-pound (seems like, anyway) newspaper stuffed with Black Friday advertising inserts announcing Christmas and limited quantities of marked-down, must-have gifts for the season. I guess that is really when Black Friday gets underway. (It actually began a week or two before when Black Friday store flyers started being leaked to the public.)
My wife and I had enjoyed a day of thanksgiving, including food and activity, with our darling grandchildren, their parents and their other grandparents. As the youngsters' bedtime drew near, we decided to slip out and pick up a couple of items at a well-known discount store that began down-pricing some of its goods at 8 or 9 p.m. the evening before Black Friday.
I dropped her off at an entrance and wandered around looking for a vacant spot on the far reaches of the store's parking universe. After I found one, I made my way into what turned out to be a mass of humanity inside. Some shoppers appeared cheerful as if in the midst of a long-awaited rite of Christmas, others were merely civil and several were showing the angst of missing out on a much-sought-after bargain or having to jostle around in a store in which most of the aisles were cluttered not only with stacked merchandise but other bedraggled shoppers, some of them with carts literally overflowing with all sorts of treasures.
I frequently heard some shoppers using words that were not allowed in the home in which I grew up. Not all were necessarily exasperated; some of them merely possessed a limited vocabulary.
My wife and I found a couple of items — after we found each other — and observed check-out lines that already stretched from the front to the rear of the cavernous building. She made a motion, and I seconded it, that we place our items back on the shelves where we had found them, seek out an exit, locate our car and then get back to family.
Back at my son's house, the parents were relaxing and the children were already tucked in and dreaming sweet dreams for the night. If only we had been so insightful.
Some retailers have gotten a jump on Black Friday before, but the effort certainly seemed more universal in 2012. A day or two later, the news reported the jump-start had been a huge success, if only for the benefit that the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping melee was not as hectic as in the past. Sales volume was high — and it only climbed by the end of Cyber Monday.
I really wish we had avoided the temptation to venture into the store. For one thing, if we had known anyone there, I would not have known how to greet him or her appropriately. Should we have said, "Merry Thanksgiving!" or "Happy Christmas!"?
Or perhaps, "Let's ditch this joint and go somewhere for a relaxing cup of coffee."
Seriously, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you will enjoy a Merry Christmas. And if you spent some time out shopping on Black Friday, I hope you avoided serious injury.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.