Knowing my interests (and famous bad attitude), many friends sent me this article in Jacobin, “The Meaning of Black Friday.” I like the detailing of the history of the name (first as a day of pandemonium, then as a perfunctory shopping day, and now as both combined), but I think the other comparisons are a little over-intellectualized. But it’s still interesting to think about how Thanksgiving and Christmas are now essentially the same holiday, except that one is for adults and the other is for children:
So in response to duty — to the alleged abandon disguised as duty — Black Friday has developed as the sly alternative. The activity is, by its very nature, as anti-Thanksgiving as you could get. Thanksgiving is, after all, a subject, even an abject celebration, in which one acknowledges submission to the whims of a distant God. Its role is in part to balance out Christmas and the practice of giving to children, in which non-reciprocity is celebrated: the child receives gifts without any expectation of reciprocal action on its part. The child’s role is simply to be. As adults we take our joy from that — Christmas Day without children is worthless and sad.
The last line makes me laugh, because as a purposely child-free adult, Christmas is so much better without children around, grabbing things and throwing paper and entirely bypassing the specialness of the occasion. For me, one of the best things about Christmas is that people stop giving a shit about work for a week or two, and start to fully appreciate things sent to them in the mail—thus a combination of two of my favorite activities: doing things that have nothing to do with one’s job, and writing/sending letters—both of which are normally lost in our empty capitalist Hunger-Games culture.