Time for a Black-out

When I stopped by the garage the other day, I happened to see a DeLorean with the following article in the front seat:

Nov. 30, 2019


(AP) – Rioters burned a dozen Walmart stores to the ground nationwide in the worst “Black Friday” violence yet recorded.

In Los Angeles, holiday shoppers had been standing in line since 3 a.m. Tuesday in hopes of grabbing a “doorbuster” holographic disc player, discounted by 80 percent. When there turned out to only be three on the shelf, authorities said, “They simply snapped.”

‘We would have broken this up faster, but hey, I wanted one of those things myself,” said LAPD Commander Norm DePlume. “What a rip-off.”

Now, I won’t swear this wasn’t another practical joke by Doc Brown. (I still owe him for the “Rox Beat Sox” World Series headline a few years back.) But I’ve got to say, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

When I was a kid, I had never heard of Black Friday. I don’t think any of my friends had. Sure, we knew a lot of shopping started after Thanksgiving – heck, we were among the major causes of it. And we knew that sometimes things got crazy, like the Great Cabbage Patch Kid Wars of 1983.

But those were the weird years. Most times, it was a more normal kind of nuts, a few weeks of too many shoppers with too much caffeine and too few parking spaces. Charles Schulz and Stan Freberg would note how Christmas had gotten too commercial (and they were probably right), but the simpler joys of the season could still be made out over the sounds of “Santa Baby” on the mall intercom.

Now, I think even Linus would run in horror.

I’m not sure how we fight it. A media blackout on the phrase and the pseudo-event? A law requiring the CEOs of Walmart, Target and other chains to be part of crowd security? A liberal use of pepper spray on anyone camped outside a closed store? (I’m sure the NYPD could demonstrate.)

I don’t know. But something needs to happen.

It’s not sane.

It’s not safe.

And it’s vandalizing the anticipation that belongs to this season.

When you’re a kid, the month before Christmas is about waiting. Waiting for the first lights to go up. Waiting for the first package to arrive in the mail. Waiting for a Dec. 25 that seems like it will never come.

In a way, that’s a faint echo of the religious tradition of the holiday. For a Christian, this period is Advent, the time of waiting and mystery before the Nativity. It’s when the hymns begin “Oh, Come, Oh, Come …” reflecting a time when no one knew yet what would come.

Whether secular or spiritual, it’s a time apart. Something special.

Too special to have its hinges ripped off by a holiday mob, drunk on discounts.

Still, the best part about Black Friday is it does end. Eventually. There’s still a chance for the season to reassert itself, still a chance to recapture the joy and wonder and even peace that belongs to this time of year.

There’s still time. Use it well.

Which reminds me. Do you think Doc Brown would let me borrow the car this year? It really would help beat the holiday rush …

Yeah. Me, either.