Why I won’t be spending a penny on Black Friday

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. It combines two of my very favorite things – cooking and eating – and I get to do copious amounts of both. Throw in some special time with family and you’ve got yourself one marvelous day.

But there’s one part of Thanksgiving I’ve grown to despise. It’s something I once loved. Shopping. The smell of commerce. The anticipation of Christmas. Even just five years ago those things made me giddy as a schoolgirl. The day after Thanksgiving I could already smell the Christmas tree. I could imagine the looks on my kids’ faces when they woke up Christmas morning to their holiday haul under the tree.

Now those feelings have faded into one simple word: Nope.

Five years ago I experienced my first Black Friday shopping trip. I woke up at 4 in the morning, long before the sun, despite having stayed up too late with friends drinking wine and studying circulars to plan my shopping. By the end of the day I was done with my Christmas shopping and about 90 percent done with my wrapping. It was a glorious feeling. I took a nap at about 4 in the afternoon with the notion in my mind that I would never Christmas shop another way. Ever.

That was my last Black Friday.

The very next year stores got greedy. Door buster sales turned from 5 a.m. to midnight. What? That either meant I’d have to get in my Black Friday shopping with a wine buzz (what else do you do after that big of a meal besides drown your fat-filled sorrows with drinking?) or skip the wine in favor of coffee. Pshhh.

The year after that stores started opening Thanksgiving night. It’s only gotten worse since then. So, why won’t I be shopping this Black Friday? First of all, I no longer know when the hell Black Friday even happens. It’s not even on a freaking Friday anymore.

Target starts its sales at 6 p.m Thanksgiving evening. Best Buy starts at 5. RadioShack is perhaps the worst. It’ll be open at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning with doorbusters until noon. They start another round of sales at 5, presumably to compete with Best Buy. Other stores opening their doors Thanksgiving morning include Wal-Mart, Kmart, Big Lots, Bass Pro and Old Navy. Stores opening that evening include Michaels, Toys R Us, J.C. Penny, Kohls, Office Depot and Staples.

There’s not much you can’t get ahold of on Thanksgiving Day.

The obvious problem with this, and the one most published by left-leaning blogs and papers is that all those low-wage workers – cashiers, baggers and stockers – will be missing out on a rare chance to spend time with family. It’s called Black Friday because retailers are said to be able to take their yearly earnings from the red to the black in just one day. Because of that, retailers typically require employees to be available to work without fail that day and most throughout the holidays. It’s all hands on deck. Shame on them for not waiting until it’s actually Friday to have Black Friday sales.

But the bigger problem, for me, is the insanity Christmas has become. Christmas swag starts coming out earlier and earlier every year with some stores setting up Christmas wonderlands before Halloween is even over. Smart for those greedy bastards, but crappy for moms like me. My kids now have nearly an extra month to start stock-piling ideas for Christmas. They have started making lists as early as July. And with ads in your face at every corner depicting housewives getting fancy cars and kids getting several hundred dollar gaming consoles and computers, my kids assume I should break the bank on them.

My point, this whole onslaught of holiday consumerism has ruined an otherwise benevolent holiday. I bet even those people with the white picket fence, two cats and a dog down the road with the “Jesus is the Reason” themed light show have Liberia’s deficit in Christmas gifts stashed in their walk-in closet.

So here’s where I will be shopping this year for the modest gifts my (hopefully) un-entitled kids will be receiving. These are the places that haven’t succumbed to the Christmas earlier and earlier mentality.

Barnes & Noble

Bed, Bath & Beyond

Burlington Coat Factory

Costco

Crate & Barrel

Dillards

DSW

Game Stop

Joanne Fabric

Lowes

Marshalls

TJ Maxx

Nieman Marcus

Nordstrum

Petco (you know, for my dog)

There are more, but that’s a good showing of retailers who obviously have leadership with sound mind and solid morals who may, you know, give a crap about their employees.

Oh, and as for grocery shopping. There was a time not too long ago when making sure every last morsel of food for Thanksgiving was purchased by Wednesday was crucial. NOTHING was open on Thanksgiving save for the occasional convenient store. That’s not the case now. To thank Publix for not forcing its employees to work on a major holiday, my shopping was still done by Wednesday.

I won’t be spending a penny on Thanksgiving.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.