Friday, November 29, 2019
Black Friday v. White Christmas
With the Thanksgiving holiday safely buttoned up for another year, it seems there's not a moment to lose in racing toward the next holiday on the wintertime list. And that means today is Black Friday.
Not a single child of this generation—except, perhaps, the precocious teenaged genealogist-in-the-making—is aware that, for multiple generations before them, the Friday after Thanksgiving used to be called...the Friday after Thanksgiving. There even was a time when—gasp!—people returned to work on the day after Thanksgiving (and not simply because they worked for a heartless 24/7 entity).
We can probably chalk it up to conniving marketers that we now speak of Black Friday as if it were a holiday designation of its own. But then, we could say the same thing about the whole idea of a white Christmas—only possible in the upper reaches of the northern hemisphere, but romanticized far and wide in song and nostalgic film settings—or the image of Santa Claus, himself. To reach back to family members' memories beyond those traditional images of the holiday season would require sitting down to chat with ancestors we never could have met face to face, in our own lifetime.
People who know me know I stay as far away as I can from the madness of Black Friday. No waking up at midnight, after putting in an earnest day's work in the kitchen, to hit the road into town in the wee hours this morning to snag the best door-buster prices on anything—for gifts for others or for myself. I've learned to develop traditions of my own. A peppermint mocha, some traditional Christmas hymns, and a box of artful Christmas cards to address to family and friends will occupy my attempt at avoiding all places commercial for the remainder of the day.
Well...and maybe a few peaceful hours crafting the finishing touches to some far reaches of my extended family tree. That should keep me away from the crowds, now, wouldn't it?!
Above: Image of Santa Claus by American cartoonist Thomas Nast, published in Harper's Weekly in 1881. Though development of the red and white costume has been attributed to marketers for the Coca Cola Company, this depiction long pre-dating the Coke advertisements is said to be the first representation of the character in what is now considered the standard red Santa suit. Image, courtesy Wikipedia, now in the public domain.