So I'm staking my claim in the ground and letting you know: I love Black Friday, and I love it for some of the same reasons that people wish it never existed.
2012 - Our last Christmas in our little yellow home, though we had no idea of that at the time. Some presents were definitely bought during Black Friday, like a headlamp that wasn't on sale but was perfect for my Angel. He still uses it.
It probably also helps that it's not like we're trying to shop in a gigantic city. Flint, MI isn't a huge, bustling metropolis. The last few years, all the Black Friday sales and lines actually felt rather calm and laid back in comparison to the years before that.
People often claim that Black Friday shopping steals family time, but as far as I'm concerned, the hours between 12-8 p.m. would otherwise be spent sleeping, so Black Friday only means more family time for us. Angel always worked either Thanksgiving or Black Friday at the hospital while I traveled to spend the holiday with relatives a couple hours away, so I would have been sleeping alone anyways--might as well not sleep, right? We also tend to meet and start chatting with other folks waiting in the long lines and share grins over varied good deals and tips on where to find specific items, so it almost feels like a community event or party.
I think sometimes people are a little too quick to cry "consumerism" and lament over the irony of shopping immediately after being grateful for all we have, because, honestly, Black Friday prices are something to be thankful for, as they make needed items much more affordable than they generally are.
One year, our entire Black Friday shopping list consisted of undergarments and jeans. If you've ever talked to an American who lives in our part of the world, you've doubtless heard complaints about how impossible it is, when living here, to find undergarments and jeans that are 1) affordable and 2) of decent quality and 3) sized to fit typical American bodies. My parents still had 5 daughters at home at the time, so you can imagine that buying something that usually runs $35 each for $8 instead was an alluring deal (multiply that original price by 2 or 3 pieces for each lady of the family and you'll get heart palpitations). The "little girls" who run 5'7" and 5'8" can't find jeans actually long enough to be jeans in this country, so getting pants that covered their ankles at 50% off was amazing! My parents even picked up discounted clothes for my brother, because clothes for men of his intimidating stature are never cheap, and his college-student budget means he'll wear clothes with holes in them rather than buy new ones on his own. Sometimes Black Friday is a little less about materialism and a little more about a chance to wear clothes that fit appropriately and won't fall apart in the wash. Another time, we bought a couple of the infamous dirt-cheap Jansport backpacks from Kohl's to bring back here to some friends who Christmas wish had been a sturdy bag (Angel bought a work bag here back in July and it's already disintegrated so much that it's gone in the garbage. He's now using the Jansport backpack I bought for college and carried with me every day of school. They may be cheap, and I know they aren't top-notch backpacks, but they are miles better than what's available at our price range here).
If I'm ever in the USA for Thanksgiving again, I plan to go Black Friday shopping (and a mere 16 months abroad has taught me exactly what supplies I'd stock up on!).
As the day approaches, I thank all those who are working on that day, and I wish that your customers will be of the happy sort and not the sort who should have stayed in bed a few more hours. But even if you end up with a few battle stories of the crazy folks, that's okay. Boring stories never made for good conversation...or good blog posts. Happy shopping if you're going, happy sleeping if you're not!