Black Hearted Friday
While making my way home sleepily following a Tryptophan-laced gorging of Herculean proportions, my wife and I passed by the local Wal-Mart at an ungodly hour and I remarked that the parking lot was filled to capacity. "Black Friday," she mumbled drowsily with just a hint of world-weary condescension. I then looked more closely and since I saw no fires blazing or police barricades set up, I let it go at that.
This morning's Drudge Report revealed the maelstrom that had been reported scant hours before: security guards maced, customer's robbed, a Victoria's Secret in shambles -- presumably by the softer gender seeking the clothing of love -- and the assorted arrests and bad blood that comes from coveting that which resides in thy neighbor's cart. I suppose anything short of seven people being shot to death in a Nebraska mall is a measured victory for merchandisers and security staff that have grown wise to what inevitably occurs when material scarcity fails to achieve parity with demand for iPhones, Elmos, Cabbage Patch Dolls, or Furrbies. (I am dating myself, again.) Greed and anticipation being what they are, how can we hold up our heads and face those whom we love when we fail to produce under the tree that which is the fleeting desire of little predatory hearts -- all ginned up by slick advertisement while promising eternal joy by way of a helluva deal?
Look, I am not going to rage self-righteously if you went to a store at midnight for a two-hundred-dollar big screen TV and managed to wrestle a bargain from out of the hands of that fat woman with a stun gun and hairy armpits. More power to you, friend. It's just that what has been ironically termed Black Friday, in quasi-sacrilege, has incrementally creeped backwards into a day when America's giving of thanks to our Creator for what we have is being upstaged by a meme that celebrates the pursuit of that which we must have. Indeed, before the liquor and pie have been digested, shoppers are bugging out from their family gatherings in contemplation of storming the local K-Mart like wild-eyed soldiers at Normandy. And let the Devil take the hindmost if you fail in taking the electronics section!
Black-Hearted Friday is coming earlier every year, and by next year it will probably commence about the time that Dallas kicks off. I suppose there is something terribly amiss when a day of supplication and gratitude is ground down into a spectacle of avarice and belligerent acquisition, but this is the negative side of commercial liberal republics that have fallen from their sacred first principles and have transposed the material and monetary in the near hollow vacuums of traditions that have lost power in our hearts. Holidays were once holy days where it was hard not too long ago to buy a dozen eggs or a pack of batteries for a metal ray-gun on Christmas morn. Back then, it was inconceivable that you would work (with very few exceptions), and it was expected that if you had a family or friends, you would be finding rest and succor within their warmth.
But not everything that changes does so for the better. The thralldom we have placed ourselves under is to a jealous deity that demands the novel; and the anxiety that accompanies his reverence apportions out brief respites of satisfaction but very little joy as he constantly whips us forward and upward to new heights of desire and cultural forgetfulness. Good Friday was a day of requisite horror whose tragedy became victory as pain was forgotten and mankind was ultimately redeemed. Black Friday curtails the celebration of Thanksgiving's contemplative repose and exchanges it for an insatiable quest for Chinese gadgets, transistors and baubles that will be forgotten soon after the wrapping is shredded about the living room -- transitory junk scattered amidst the ads for "Day after Christmas Sales" and the insufferable "Year's End Blow-Out."
"He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have." -- Socrates