My new manuscript begins a few days before Thanksgiving in the United States. Originally, I hadn’t planned to use Black Friday in my story, but as I wrote this blog about the opening salvo for non-stop Christmas shopping several fun and interesting twists came to mind. This is the one American shopping day we either love or dread, depending on your point of view. I’ve fallen into both camps over the years.
In America Thanksgiving Day is always the fourth Thursday in November. Across the country extended family gathers to gorge themselves on food. Hey, it’s a tradition. On Friday morning your rise early, stare at either a whistle-clean kitchen or mountains of dirty plates, utensils, pots and pans, and ask the burning question. Do I dive into the rapids to snatch up those fantastic doorbuster deals or sit it out on home shore?
If you opt out you miss the camaraderie of several friends or family members going shopping on Black Friday. For many American women this is a long-held tradition, the same as roasted turkey on their Thanksgiving Day table. Granted, you’ll suffer the jam-packed parking lots, buses, and subway trains, elbow to elbow shoppers and long, snaking checkout lines. We won’t discuss the jab and grab shoppers who literally steal the last hot buy you almost took off the shelf.
Two of my best Black Friday shopping memories occurred at opposite coasts and very different environments.
In Manhattan I experienced the ultimate shopping venue, Macy’s at Herald Square. November in New York requires warm hats and gloves, heavy coats along with a scarf to fight off the icy wind.
As most people know Macy’s sponsors the televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is a great way to prepare for tomorrow’s shopping day. On your feet!
The day after the parade my friend and I crowded into a subway train packed with like-minded shoppers. We entered Macy’s through a “side” door to avoid the front entrance crush of people.
This grand dame of department stores, touted as the world’s largest, still uses the same old wooden escalator, only one person wide. I had visions of the classic Christmas move, Miracle on 34th Street, and expected to find Maureen O’Hara any moment. My friend and I did leave by the front entrance around four p.m. Coming down that escalator to the first floor was a shock. An avalanche of people wedged toward the Up escalator, herded by Macy employees. Not a foot of empty floor space was visible. I’ve never witnessed this many people at my Macy’s back home. Maybe at a discount store like Target, but not a department store.
On my home turf, the west coast, my favorite memory of Black Friday was the year a gang of girlfriends and I packed into one SUV. Here the dress is typically long sleeve tops and jeans. Temperatures are normally in the sixties with sunny skies. We hit every discount and department store we could in an eight hour shopping marathon. I admit we did stop late in the day and grab a quick lunch. An important part of the ultimate shopping spree is the chance to sit down and share your best buy stories over a cup of coffee.
Whatever your Black Friday plans I wish you a Happy Holiday season.