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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Black is the New Green: From the Editor's Desk...

"A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every twenty-fifth of December!" 

Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens

This is the time of the year I hire an extra security guard to stand watch over my wallet; it has come under siege from all quarters. The mailbox bulges with catalogs. Pages of glossy photographs push merchandise confirming white elephants are alive and well, no longer on the endangered species list. Sandwiched in between them are packets from one charity after another reminding me this is the season for giving--as if the needy were invisible the other ten months of the year--as if I could use all those address labels in two lifetimes....

At their posts, standing sentinel over the red tripods and kettles, Salvation Army surrogates halfheartedly shake loose a jingle or two out of their little bells, leveraging guilt to squeeze a few coins out of shoppers. Surrogates? Yes, General Booth's army has outsourced its bell ringers, gone secular in keeping with the spirit of getting and spending. No more that little dumpling of a Salvationist, ruddy cheeked, braving the cold, her uniform replete with bonnet, red shield and epaulletes. No longer does she swing her bell with cheerful resolve for hours on end, standing the while on those black regulation high heels fat as my wrist. Her replacement? Some fellow wearing an L.L. Bean jacket lounging in a folding chair, sipping a holiday cup of Starbucks which, by the way, he's holding in his bell ringing hand...a disingenuous "Merry Christmas" to you, too, sir. Enjoy your seasonal paycheck."

                       "The world is too much with us.
                        Getting and spending we lay waste our powers..."
                                              William Wordsworth

But there's nothing more insidious this time of year than the concept of "Black Friday," corporate retail's strong-arm campaign against the American consumer. Not only has Black Friday cast a pall over Thanksgiving, but it's nearly relegated the day of thanks (not unlike the marshmallow-topped yams) to the holiday back burner. Black Friday is an all out assault on our wallets, our bank accounts...our nest eggs. Now it's in your face Black Friday every calendar day post-Thanksgiving until after the Friday before Christmas. Car dealerships dangle "Black Friday" month in front of shoppers. Furniture stores, the big retailers, everyone with something to sell has hopped on the "Black Friday" bandwagon. Black Friday, I'm told, now begins on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It's "noir" Friday in your face (I have several containers of Black Friday honey if you're interested; it's Black Friday every day until the supply runs out).

The days of those two  magical wish books, Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck's winter catalogs are gone forever, swallowed up by the black hole known as Black Friday. We Americans have so much to be thankful for, and it's my hope we honor Thanksgiving in the spirit for which it was intended. So, readers, regardless of  this plague of blackness, The Ripple wishes you all a "Happy Thanksgiving." And if you do happen to fall into the Black Friday abyss and have any money left over for Cyber Monday, give thanks for that, too.

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