Does it strike anyone else as curious that the gluttonous shopping orgy we call Black Friday has the same label used over the years to describe:
- One of the worst financial days in U.S. history
- A windstorm on the Scottish coast that killed 189 fishermen
- A women’s suffrage event where over 200 females were assaulted by English police
- A day of devastating bushfires in Australia that killed 71 people
- A massacre of protesters in Iran
- A devastating tornado in Alberta
Are we having fun yet? Though they say don’t knock something until you’ve tried it, unlike the lemings re-enacting Wrestlemania at Walmart, the prospect of this annual post-Thanksgiving mosh pit sounds as delightful to me as the cheery Black Friday events described above. And this is done in the name of “giving”?
I prefer kicking off the holiday season with the “Bright Saturday” I spent recently with a bunch of people bestowing not Black Friday bargains, but their talents to recipients truly in need. My friend and fellow musician Skip Jones’ daughter Amandalynn is a professional photographer who recruits her peers for an annual event here in Madison called Help Portrait. It provides studio-quality pictures to individuals and families free of charge to those who cannot afford them. Meanwhile, Skip enlisted me and others to entertain the hundreds of subjects who milled about the warehouse warren awaiting their turn to be snapped in one of the impromptu photo booths
“Cute” doesn’t begin to describe getting family of fourteen– including a newborn– to beam simultaneously, or a little girl trying to rein in her ornery kitty. Since in reality many of the posers were out of jobs, even homeless, it was nice to see them smile for a few minutes at a camera or a song. My pay was in pizza, but I came home feeling truly rich from being among people like Amandalynn, Skip and all those who came to The River.
Others can race to 12-hour sales this holiday season; I’d rather try to keep up with the Joneses.