Thursday Is The New Friday Awards

Anti-black Friday guy

Another treasure from Facebook.

Black Friday has never been my thing. I’m not an early riser. There is no thrill of the hunt for me. I’m never organized enough for the December holidays to even know what I should put on a list. And nothing I want (or want brought into my house) is a Doorbuster anyway.

I’m afraid though that I am outnumbered in my generation, because it is during the GenX transition to adulthood that America has seen the rise of Black Friday and the emergence of what I am calling Even Blacker Thursday.

Nigel Tufnel said, “It’s like, how much more black could this be?” referring to an album cover, of course. But it also could be applied to what has become of Black Friday. And the answer is, “How much blacker would you like it to be?”

There’s a piece showing up in my Facebook feed from the Huffington Post on stores that will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, including quotes from the retailers justifying their decisions. They may be in a heated race to attract shoppers, but I had a little fun thinking about how they compete on their key messages.

Heaviest on Marketing-Speak Award — Kohl’s

“Kohl’s will be the most compelling shopping destination for the entire family this holiday season with our strong portfolio of sought-after national and private brands, our extensive online assortment and a deep list of exciting products that are new to Kohl’s this year.”

Did this guy lift this right from his presentation in the C-suite? I especially love the phrase “most compelling shopping destination,” and the idea that Kohl’s consumers would consider a store’s “portfolio of sought-after national and private brands,” when planning their post-dinner pursuits.

Most Like an Onion Article Award — JC Penney

“In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, we have many exciting activities and giveaways planned to show just how much we appreciate the hard work and dedication of our associates. Activities and giveaways include swag bags full of goodies, round-the-clock food to keep associates fueled for delivering excellent customer service, pep rallies to drive excitement and energy through the early morning hours of Black Friday, and drawings for fun prizes.”

Wow! I wonder if there is a line of people forming at the service desk to apply for the Thanksgiving shift. Swag bags? All-you-can-eat buffets? Pep rallies? I guess we should assume that cots in the break room aren’t part of the plan. With all that excitement, there’s no way anyone would want to sleep anyway, let alone enjoy Thanksgiving with their family and friends.

Most Honest Award — Radio Shack

“Given the customer demand for store hours on Thanksgiving last year, we made the decision to open on Thanksgiving. It gives us the opportunity to stay competitive.”

If you’re going to disregard an American original, at least be honest about it, right?

Most Prophetic — Big Lots

“Big Lots listens to its customers, and based on their feedback, Big Lots stores have been open on Thanksgiving for over 20 years. This year is no different.”

Not only does Big Lots pat themselves on the back for their open ear policy regarding customers, they trump all other retailers in their prophecy made two decades ago that America would come to this.

Thursday-Is-The-New-Friday Award — Walmart

“Black Friday is no longer an event for customers who wake up at the crack of dawn to get good deals.”

Get with it, people. Black Friday hasn’t begun in the wee hours of the morning for a while now. If you want to roll back the prices on your shopping list, you’d better get on board with a new concept of time. Geez!

Vicious Cycle Award — Macy’s

“We work diligently to staff Thanksgiving with associates who volunteer to work and doing so means that our people are able to make their own decisions about how they contribute to our most important and busiest weekend of the year. We also heard last year from many associates who appreciated the opportunity to work on Thanksgiving so they could have time off on Black Friday. Additionally, associates who work an opening shift on Thanksgiving will be compensated with incentive pay.”

How kind of them to make it possible for their employees to shop Black Friday by working on Thanksgiving. You can at least say that Macy’s isn’t biting the hand that feeds.

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Deadlines, please accept my hearty thanks

Courtesy of FamousQuotesAbout.com.

Yesterday I had to wrap up a few small things for a client before “officially” starting my holiday (which begins today because of school schedules). I handle their Facebook page and needed to get a post up, catch up on “likes,” etc. When I open Facebook, it automatically goes to my personal account, and it was a full half-hour before I made my way to my client’s account. Where that half hour went, I have no idea. It was as if I was lost in some sort of social media time warp where three seconds is 30 minutes in “real” time… kind of like the whole “Fido is 108 in dog years” thing.

It’s this kind of situation that makes me thankful for deadlines. And as we approach the culminating experience of the Thanksgiving season, our awareness of the full-stop on meal preparations is likely quite acute. We are hosting at our home. I am crossing things off lists, figuring out oven temps and times, and preparing for the juggling act that has already had me doing things like pushing a grocery cart with my elbow while squeezing my cell phone between my ear and my shoulder on the phone with the furnace company and using my other arm like a traffic cop to direct my children away from the bread samples and over toward the wine section.

This isn’t a recipe for gratitude. It’s the near-silent beginning of a crescendo that offers the strong possibility that I will lose it over too many sweet potato skins hitting my freshly steamed floors this evening. But what I am thankful for is that tomorrow, whether I am ready or not, the deadline will come as I pour and pass delicious cranberry cocktails, sink into a chair and feel the stress exit my nerves due to either that first sip or the fact that the turkey is my husband’s gig, not mine.

Deadlines move us forward, whether we hit or miss them. When you don’t make them, you may find yourself tracking down a restaurant to deliver or losing a client because you couldn’t deliver. In the end, you are a different person. You may be wiser for the mistake you made or reassured in your success, but you have changed on some level.

Sometimes it’s just nice to have a deadline because you know what you are waiting for will come. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thankful for Choice

Looking at the variety of posts on Facebook these past few days and discussions I’ve had with family and friends reminds me how valuable choice is. So many people turned out to vote in the election, many spending hours in line to be able to have their say. And the result was an election that involved a high level of participation from the people in this country.  Whether you like the outcome or not, I’m sure you were pleased to have a voice in it.

Choice isn’t always an easy thing to live with, though. Too many options, or even just a second option, in some cases is irritating at worst and sometimes just a distraction. For example, my family lives in Chicago, where attendance at your local public school isn’t automatic.  You are faced with a variety of choices — public schools that require testing, public schools that grant access by lottery, independent schools, parochial schools, schools that cost more than you paid in college tuition. Our decision would be far easier if we had none at all.

I know people who walked into the polls on Tuesday still mulling over their choices.  It’s not an easy thing to have to choose when you don’t feel certain, and the potential for regret is high.

And how many times do you find yourself flipping through 100+ channels on TV or spending a few hours watching old MTV videos on YouTube? Choice can be a time suck when not put to good use.

But despite my quarrels with choice, I’m still very grateful to have one. Choice forces me to be a better person, to think about consequences, to motivate myself, to inform myself so that I can make the best decisions for me and anyone who’ll be affected by my choice. Choice encourages tolerance. When you understand the implication choice has on a person’s life, you have a basis for seeing why they might take one path vs. another. This doesn’t always happen, because choice can be abused. But the potential is there.  Each individual just needs to embrace it.

A time to blog about gratitude

I’m taking a page from Paige (Paige Worthy, her real name) and hopping on the NaBloPoMo bandwagon, shooting for a blog post every day.  For the uninitiated, NaBloPoMo stands for National Blog Posting Month and is a take on NaNoWriMo, which is National Novel Writing Month.  I should be doing NaNoWriMo, but I am opting for NaBloPoMo for a variety of reasons I won’t go into here.

Furthermore, I will continue the copycat trend by blogging about thankfulness.  It’s the season of gratitude, and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  This is the perfect recipe (I hope) for getting me into the habit of posting more often.

I sat here for ten minutes trying to cook up an idea on thankfulness.  My mind was blank.  I got up to make dinner while thinking about what I am most thankful for… family, friends, health.  But it seemed a gross understatement to blog about being grateful for those things.  I think we need an entirely new word for that.

Then I looked at those three words and saw instantly a common thread — time.  None of these things can be appreciated in the absence of time.  Can you give and receive love from your family without committing time to them?  No. Can you appreciate the support and company of friends without spending time with them?  No. Can you enjoy good health without putting the time in to maintain it?  Not if you’re a midlifer, at least.

The more I age, the more precious time becomes in my life.  I can remember slow-moving Sunday afternoons in my twenties when there seemed to be just enough time… and maybe a bit too much… to enjoy the day.  It has been so long since I haven’t felt the window of time closing on one activity to move on to the next.  The pace of my life is frequently abrupt, and I cannot picture it going any faster than it does now.  Even when I am waiting impatiently, I think about how my time could be spent doing something else, and I feel the lost opportunity as the minutes pass.  When time walks out the door, it’s over.  It never comes back.

So, I am launching this month with my thanks for time.  I wish I spent it more wisely.  Every day I recognize that I don’t manage it as well as I would like or always use it in ways that are productive.  But I am very grateful for all that it has given me.