It begins. Starting at the crack of dawn, beginning at 5 a.m., the morning when the motor is turned off. Though the car engine never got hot after it left your driveway for the short drive, steam still radiates from under the hood, between the joints of the car's metal frame after it's parked at the shopping mall.
It's 35 degrees outside and you're ready to shop on the day after Thanksgiving. Sales seem to be poring through department store windows that are canvassed with billboard-sized cardboard. The oversized fonts with their cartoonish messages are drawing you closer.
“Big Sale!! Doorbuster!!! Early riser!!!!”
The words seem to cry in unison as they sear into your corneas. The messages are clear: Spend not only everything you have, but spend everything you will have for the next 365 days.
It's “Black” Friday again, the day-after Thanksgiving when annual sales are waved in front of wayward consumers like carrots on a stick. Retailers call it “Black” Friday, but I think the regular guy needs to call it “Black and Blue” Friday. Or how about “Envious Green” Friday? Maybe those are good nicknames for the single day when you might spend more than you bargain for at the outset.
Maybe it's good for the economy or just good physical exercise to walk the malls the day after you eat so much food with family and friends that you resemble the fat turkey you had for dinner the day before.
I don't know.
But what is evident is the effect of buying power on the human psyche. Cradling crumpled bills in your hand or idly flipping your credit card at the register to pay for the latest trendy sweater is a release. The endless hours of work you spend each week at your job translate into dollar signs and that cash finally produces something elegant for you to hold. The same will be true for your banking or credit card statement in January, though that won't be so fondly remembered.
But as you buy your gifts, thoughts of ensuing bills don't occur.
You only see throngs of feet whisking by as people squeeze into malls that early day for the kick-off of the shopping season.
So this is Christmas ... and I'm not even thinking of John Lennon's song.
There are the long lines at registers. There are the disgruntled would-be soccer moms that have been transformed into robotic shopping machines. (Picture Rosie the Riveter on steroids.)
Then there's my favorite group: the Men who wait until Dec. 24 to buy that first gift. Christmas Eve is probably the only day when Victoria's Secret stores are filled with male shoppers ... and no, I've not been one of them.
I am certain of one thing, though. There is a reason we shop. And it often fills a vacuum we have that can be satisfied by nothing else.
Jeffery Whitfield covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .