Happy Thanksgiving

At this beginning-in-earnest day of the Holiday Season, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving. It seems to help in this jittery world to reserve some time to be grateful for whatever’s okay. My roses are still putting on buds and blossoms, which is amazing to me, and I tell them thank you every day. Talking to plants? Hey, there’s evidence they actually respond to voice. Ah, but I digress.

As the holidays approach each year, we try to use Thanksgiving as a day of reflection and gratitude and reminiscing over pie and coffee. The holidays will be “different” again this year. Partly due to COVID-19, which looks like it’s going to be with us for a while. And, because of the weather, which is definitely different this year. Also, due to our pretty homebound lifestyle. We are making adjustments as we anticipate the holiday season — which is different than last year and way different from our “usual” Thanksgiving gatherings and, well, just about everything. Still, it’s okay, and we’re grateful for all the good deed doers who make life easier and happier.

I’ve been thinking about the Friday after Thanksgiving. So-called Black Friday is an official state holiday in 22 states, although Maine is not one of them. Still many businesses and schools — but definitely not retailers — close for the weekend. It’s the holiday retail shopping that’s about to boom. Black Friday — often coupled with Cyber Monday — is one of the busiest shopping times in the U.S.A. There are several stories about the origin of the term “Black Friday.” One, is it arose out of the Philadelphia area in the 1960s, when police used the words to describe the city’s traffic jams around the Army-Navy football game. Many football fans also crowded the streets for shopping, which caused all kinds of traffic problems and quarrels. The phrase had a negative overtone for a while, but retailers latched onto the term, created a positive connotation encouraging retail outlets to drive huge sales, and by the 1980s, the phrase had spread from coast to coast, to hawk the biggest retail deals of the year.

There are a couple of other theories as to why the day after Thanksgiving Day is called Black Friday. One theory is the term Black Friday comes from an old way of recording business accounts. Losses were recorded in red ink and profits in black ink. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, didn’t reach the point of making profits until the early Christmas season. When they did, they journaled in black ink to show the profit. This came to be about the day after Thanksgiving Day.

Another premise, which has been shared widely on social media for many years and is still active, is Black Friday refers to a certain day when slave traders sold slaves at a discount to help plantation owners acquire extra help for the winter. This notion is generally discredited, and marked untrue by Snopes and other myth busters. The social media post that shared this idea originated around the time of a protest march against police brutality, and the story may have been purposeful to raise awareness. According to History.com this story “has no basis in fact.”

Another story about “Black Friday” involves a scam by financiers Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, against President Ulysses S. Grant in 1869. The pair bought up a lot of gold to raise the price. The president got wind of it, and sold off a quantity of government gold, which sank the prices and ruined many gold investors. Black Friday.com says the term itself came from the Philadelphia Police Department story and from the Gold Crisis in 1869, both of which used those words. However, the current use, begun in the 1960’s, harks back to when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black ink a profit.

No matter how you look at it, Black Friday, has a colossal effect on American retailers. By the way, Black Friday.com said the Black Friday of 2020 — Thanksgiving plus Black Friday — brought in $14.13 billion in online sales alone. That’s $9.03 billion spent on Black Friday and $5.1 billion spent on Thanksgiving. I cannot even comprehend that amount of money. I think I’ll just stay home. Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.

The town office is closed for the long weekend — Thanksgiving and Black Friday.