November 25th, 2013


Give Me A Break Part II

I've already made several complaints about the creeping infiltration of All Christmas Shopping All The Time. It officially raises its ugliest head -- or used to -- on Friday, aka Black Friday. Now the date is creeping back to Red Monday. That's a semi-humorous reference to Labor Day, in case you don't remember the 50s. (the-only-grin-in-this-piece)

Actually, the Wikipedia article is worth reading. Seems Black Friday began in Philadelphia, as a term by the police for the day between Thanksgiving and the Army-Navy Game. It also included heavy shopping the next day on Black Saturday. It wasn't until later that people tried to spin this as a good term. When retailers get into the black for the year on their balance sheets. And as it grew in importance and stores worried about getting that black ink, the loss leader sales began to go exponential. Laptops for $200! Giant screen TVs for $500! Free! (For the first two customers of the first 187,326 customers nationwide at 3:02am, no rain checks, please don't kill the other customers or maim the employees, who we'll have to fire if they dare touch a customer when they are shoved, because.)

Then, given the increase in online shopping, the geniuses came up with Cyber Monday, a day to abuse the workplace with heavy traffic and low productivity in pursuit of online deals. And the Black Friday people take a dim view of you using your smartphone to look for better deals while standing in their store. Of course, some of the cyber deal retailers are the same ones with the big box stores, so this is getting really complicated.

Anyway, all this emphasis on big box stores and malls and e-commerce created a backlash, hence the reminder to help the local small and boutique stores with Small Business Saturday. Which in and of itself isn't such a terrible idea, especially amongst those who resent the Wal-Martification of America.

But having big crowds and sales on Black Friday wasn't enough. Or maybe the saturation required a What Have You Done For Me Lately... so big box stores began opening earlier on Friday. 6am, 5am, 3am, 12:01am. Finally we started seeing openings and sales at 10pm on Thanksgiving itself, then 8pm. This year there's a big push for Thanksgiving afternoon shopping and a new day is born. Gray Thursday, which already HAS a name, it's called Thanksgiving. Gray Thursday is particularly obnoxious because it pulls families apart as staff has to work on Thanksgiving and the shoppers "have" to shop on Thanksgiving. IMHO.


Trying to find some good in all this, charitable organizations have promoted Giving Tuesday.
No, really. It's a thing. It has a website,, with 6720 Partners (and growing). And a picture with Bill & Melinda Gates, an article by Hugh Jackman. It has a hashtag, #GivingTuesday. You don't get more real than that in 2013. Now, whether you have any money left to give after All This Binge Shopping, that's left as an exercise for the reader.

And in 2010 I heard about Deer Season:
"Deer season" begins (the) Saturday (before Christmas), in retail speak.

That’s when the most reluctant shoppers begin venturing into stores with what Kimberly Smith calls that “deer in the headlights look,” foraging for gifts.
Gray Thursday... Geesh. What's next? No, no, I don't think I want to know. Because there will be something. And no doubt the Next Big Christmas Shopping Day will be in April. Because you have to start early to get a jump on the competition. Give it a sexy day name, like Green First. Because only fools would go Christmas gift shopping on April 1.


Dr. Phil

A Better Thought of Thanksgiving

Let's face it. Thanksgiving is about giving Thanks and Giving food. Other than Santa Claus' official entrance in front of Macy's at the end of The Big Balloon Parade, let's leave Christmas out of it.

Plus this year we get the once-in-thousands-of-years combination of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah.

So it was with great amusement that a Facebook link took me to a blog entry about Astrid Amara's sweet and sour Hanukkah meal created by friend and chef Nikki Kimberling. (You can safely click through any warning popup you get on this blog for this entry.)

Lovely sounding meal and interesting commentary. And it also shows you the lengths that authors will go to get the details right. The menu:
Appetizer: a dip of toasted local hazelnuts and tahini served with toasted pita wedges and crudités.

Starter: Warmly Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Main: parchment-wrapped salmon parcels with preserved lemon cream served with cranberry choucroute and kohlrabi and potato latkes

Dessert: sufganiyot 2 kinds Sugar-Coated with Rhubarb Jam or Mexican chocolate Glaze with marshmallow crème.
Followed by the recipes!

Well played. Well played indeed. Lechaim!

Dr. Phil