The Thanksgiving turkey has been carved and gobbled up. Sweet potatoes covered in toasted marshmallows, green beans crusted with onion rings and piles of fluffy white mashed potatoes have met their gravy match. Pumpkin pies and truffle and early sugar cookies satisfied everyone in the house. But did they really?
While many of us crashed on sofas and chairs doing our best to sleep off tryptophan served up with turkey, others had another itch to scratch — the urge to shop.
Black Friday was once the most popular day to kick off the holiday shopping season and catch hot bargains, but these days many also push away from the Thanksgiving dinner table, kiss their relatives’ goodbye and hit the stores to shop on Thanksgiving evening. When did this happen? When did the bargains get so tantalizing?
Black Friday is so named because after bookkeepers had logged months of red ink signifying loss, the start of shopping season on the Friday after Thanksgiving brought black ink, signifying profit. Most retailers depend on Black Friday to salvage the year. But it’s only the second day in a line of shopping days now promoted by businesses who are all vying for your spending dollars.
Thanksgiving Day shopping is followed by Black Friday which is followed by Small Business Saturday — created, labeled and promoted in 2010 by American Express to support small businesses, who, in turn, offer special deals that urge shoppers to support their local businesses. I hope you found time on Saturday to stop by a local business and purchase even one gift, because shopping local makes a difference to the businesses who support and hold up our very own community.
I’m not a shopper. It could be that growing up without a lot of resources and with a mom and dad who only shopped for essentials influenced me, or it could be that I am appalled at the cost of things these days. I guess I will never know why I was not born a shopper, but I’ve learned how to find bearable bargains online. I’ve gravitated to a way of shopping that my parents never knew and that I learned late in life, at least compared to kids today.
If your Thanksgiving is for family only, if you chose not to fight Black Friday crowds, and if your Saturday was already booked up, you have another shot to shop for bargains. Get your fingers in shape because Monday marks the day we type our way to savings on laptops and other electronic devices. It’s Cyber Monday — the biggest online commerce sales day of the year in our nation.
Cyber Monday, the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, was created in 2005 and promoted by marketing companies as a way of persuading people in the United States to shop online. Statistically, that persuasion has worked. Fortune magazine and Adobe both reported that over $3.45 billion was spent by online shoppers on Cyber Monday 2016.
I’ve already ordered gifts online for all three grandkids, yet you will find me on the computer on Monday, tracking down the last ones on my list. If we don’t find everything we’re looking for, there are more opportunities ahead, all of them before the big man in the red suit shows up.
Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday aren’t the only big shopping days folded into the holiday season. Super Saturday — the Saturday closest to Christmas Day — is another lucrative day for retailers, one that thrives with the help of a boatload of procrastinators!
I hope you don’t mind that I saved the best for last. There’s one more big shopping day to consider and I hope you’ll consider it hard. That day is this Tuesday. If you have already purchased gifts for the easiest people on your list and you’re struggling to find the perfect present for someone who has it all, this day is for you.
It’s Giving Tuesday. Consider contributing to a local cause in someone’s name and make a difference to others at the same time. I can’t think of a better gift.
The Tuesday after Cyber Monday is always Giving Tuesday. The donations that come into charities on this day, mostly through online sources, help them help others in need. Your contribution on Giving Tuesday may be the most significant gift you buy this season because you are not only giving a gift to someone you care about, you are giving a gift to someone you don’t even know.
The programs and services our local charities support run the gamut. You could help a veteran in need, or send meals on wheels to a homebound soul in your community. You could give to a program that promotes healthy marriages and families and builds healthy communities. You could help a blind or physically disabled person obtain a service dog, or give to a food pantry in your neighborhood.
There are charities that build homes for the poor, deliver prescriptions to the elderly, promote childcare choices to low-budget families, give scholarships to graduating seniors, operate recreational programs, offer legal services to low income individuals, help those with disabilities, work to curb the drug problem in your neighborhood, and so much more. And there is a bonus, too! Your donation to a recognized charity is a tax write-off.
I hope your Thanksgiving was an epic good day and your shopping season is one of the best ever. Let’s find a way to check everyone off our shopping lists lickity-split, and amid all the work and play, let’s all try to make a difference this year.