My dear friend Ms. Chick recently wrote a blog post about Black Friday. After reading it, I started to comment, then realized it would make for a better blog post.
Ms. Chick’s post focuses on the madness that is Black Friday sales, and how they are starting earlier and earlier each year. The discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Kmart are fond of late Thursday sales. I know people who thrive on mingling with large crowds to get their holiday shopping done. Possibly they get an adrenaline rush from the experience. As for me, I’m not a fan of shopping on Black Friday, though I admit to occasionally hanging out at malls & shopping centers the day after Thanksgiving to people watch. I’m a fiction writer, so this constitutes research.
Where I took issue, though, is with the end of her post:
It’s not like someone has a denominational difference that would prevent them from celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s a purely secular holiday.
…It’s just that is whatever you are going to buy so important that you have to give up sleep and time with family/friends in order to obtain it? Not to mention possibly trample someone? And do you really need to see a movie on Thanksgiving? Can’t you wait until the next day or watch something at home?
The holidays are a really tough time for folks who can’t be with family or friends for whatever reason, or their family is so freakin’ dysfunctional that it’s easier to be on their own. Even before Momcat died, I wasn’t a big fan of the Thanksgiving/Christmas season: I always had high expectations, only to end up feeling let down. There were several years when I made a point of doing nothing for either holiday because I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted, and with whom I wanted. There were other years in which I spent holidays with friends and those were really fun times. Again, it’s what fiction writers call research.
What it comes down to is this: I love my family and friends, and yet during the holiday season it can be so difficult for me to love them as fully as I normally would. Spending time with them can also be difficult. This has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. Yet being alone is just as hard, because my brain loops back through all those memories of holidays gone by and lost loved ones, which makes me feel much worse. Despite all this, I try to find ways to make the holidays pleasant for myself, because dwelling on the used-to-be’s and the remember-back-when’s can be emotionally crippling. I think that’s why I love the original version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, because of these lines:
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow
For that reason, escaping to a shopping mall or movie theatre, where I can float anonymously through a sea of humanity, sounds like a good way to muddle through.