Posted: Nov 26, 2013 6:00 AM
 
Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving in the U.S., and is often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. While some shoppers snub their noses at the somewhat infamous shopping day, claiming that family time trumps possible good deals, some shoppers are all for it. Here's why.

Shoppers and deal-hunters alike are counting down the days until one of the biggest — and most exciting — shopping days of the year: Black Friday. At the very same time, nay-sayers are crying out in outrage: Family time! Give thanks! Shame on you! At first blush, I might suggest midnight store-goers mute their stance and quietly slip into stores to score that amazing deal. But on second thought: Black Friday shoppers unite and stand proud. There's nothing to be ashamed of here and there's no slinking allowed.black friday graphic

The term "Black Friday" was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season. "Black" referred to stores moving from the "red" to the "black," back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. While the black ink reference might be outdated, the shopping tradition has stuck and, in fact, has bled into some stores opening Thursday evening. According to a report on CNN Money, the number of people shopping in stores last year climbed to 307.67 million!

How can that possibly be? Many have cried (whined?) touting the ugliness of turning a day meant to center around tradition, family and gratefulness into a shopping extravaganza. In the same CNN Money article, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay's response was succinct: "The only way to describe the Thanksgiving (earlier) openings is to call them a huge win. Thanksgiving shopping has really become an extension of the day's activities. Whole families are going." And that right there is the proverbial nail being hit on the head.

Tradition!

Before we had children, my husband Jason and I would peruse the stores on Black Friday morning, coffee in hand, hoping to get ahead on our holiday shopping. It was a fun date carved out for just the two of us after a day of loving extended family togetherness. It was a tradition we looked forward to. After our children were born, the thought of going to the store, anytime really, felt like a chore rather than an outing, so we skipped the shopping fun and stayed cozily at home on Thanksgiving weekend. But as our kids got a little bit older and our days flowed a little bit more smoothly, the Black Friday bug bit my husband, especially, and Black Friday wove into our Thanksgiving weekends yet again.

It started out as getting up early to get that one appliance we'd been waiting to snag. Jason would take one for the team and head out early, but once he was out, he was all in. He loves the people watching and the deal getting. And as someone in the retail industry, he sees the day as exciting business-wise as well. Our fun Thanksgiving tradition has been restored. Sometimes just Jason goes alone, coming home with loot to share and sometimes we all go. And you know what? It's fun.

The vision of crazy shoppers out to hurt each other for a pair of socks is... dramatic. In our experience, the lines are long, but the energy is exciting. Like anything else, Black Friday shopping is exactly what you make of it.


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Katie, a wife and mother of three, has gone Black Friday shopping for as long as she can remember. She says, "It's an every other year thing where my best friend and I go. We aren't out looking for the deals, it's just a fun excuse to get together, have breakfast and if we get Christmas shopping done, then great. And, it's great people watching."


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Jen Rodriguez, a coffee-loving stay-at-home mom to three kids, agrees. Jen says, "Last year was the first time I went. I went out of curiosity and for the adventure of it (we actually went Thanksgiving night around 8 p.m.). I got some good deals and enjoyed my time out with a good friend. And other shoppers were way nicer than I anticipated."

Like football watching and leftover eating, a yearly shopping trip almost sounds like a tradition, doesn't it?

Family!

Holidays are meant to be slowed down days filled with picture perfect moments. Some of these revolve around the table, some in front of the TV and some families have added other traditions to the mix such as decorating for Christmas, playing touch football or getting out into the snow. And some families? Shop.


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Kelly Olson, a teacher and mother of two, does Thanksgiving Black Friday style. She says, "It has become a mother-daughter tradition to shop in the wee hours on Black Friday. Caffeine in hand, smiling and giggling and finding an occasional bargain makes Black Friday special for us. As one can read, it really isn't about the gifts we buy — for Meghan and me it's about the love we have shared."

As Shay reported to CNN Money, more and more families are viewing Black Friday shopping as an extension of the day, not an excuse to shortchange family time. And just like we can all agree to disagree on what potatoes are best to mash, we don't have to come to blows over who does what after dinner.

Gratefulness!

Thanksgiving is an amazing time to focus on what we're grateful for. Families share their thankfulness around full tables, create crafts and spend quality time together. And for some, Black Friday shopping fits the bill as family time.

It's not for everyone, but that doesn't mean that it should literally not be for anyone.

While Thanksgiving isn't recognized as an official U.S. holiday, many employees do have the day off — except those working in retail. And this is a sore spot high on the anti-Black Friday agenda. But here's the scoop. When I was a teacher, I did have Thanksgiving weekend off, and I was so very grateful for the time. But today, as a freelance writer, I have to plan to get my work done in advance or choose to work on Thanksgiving weekend because deadlines still exist even while turkey is roasting, much in the same way that my husband has to choose to request Thanksgiving off as a holiday or choose to go in to work. This is simply a part of working in retail. Not everyone's first choice? Perhaps. But still just the way things go. Some retailers offer bonus pay for working holiday hours, others just call it work and leave it be. And some employees even enjoy the excitement and energy of the day. It's not for everyone, but that doesn't mean that it should literally not be for anyone.

So that's my stance, and I'm ready to stand by it and discuss. Do you go shopping on Black Friday? Do you begrudge people who do?

Read the opposing view: I'll never shop on Black Friday! >>

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