KENNEBUNK — Ah, Black Friday. The day businesses (hope to) turn a profit and move their books into the positive column. What a great marketing idea!

There are a few huge problems, though.

Over the last several years, people have gotten really hurt in their dash for the latest whatever. This year, it’s a time for strikes and picket lines at some big box stores. All of this is getting serious.

It’s also cutting into our day of giving thanks, the one day we set aside to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have so much.

For many, Thanksgiving becomes the day when people rush to the store to buy stuff they don’t need with money they don’t have because it’s on sale.

For some, it’s simply a fun tradition, getting together with friends and your lists. It’s social and a great night out. If I were 40, I’d probably join you.

A young man was at Macy’s in New York City on Friday morning being interviewed by cable news. The reporter thought he was one of the 11,000 people who came to the store when it opened at midnight.

Funny thing is, he had just arrived and came to buy his socks on sale. This is his Black Friday tradition, to buy enough socks for the year and then watch all the craziness.

His mother should be really proud of him. He’s a guy with a great sense of humor and one who knows when to keep his credit card in his wallet.

I grew up in a time when there weren’t any credit cards. Everyone saved up their money for their old car, new refrigerator or winter coat. Then they went out and bought it.

My sisters and I all had Christmas Clubs. That was a bank account set up in October for you to deposit your allowance until Dec. 15 and then withdraw what you had saved. What a glorious feeling that was!

A few years later, you could pick out what you wanted on layaway and pay for it as you could. There was no such thing as “have it now and pay for it later.”

In 2012, half of your purchases are broken or lost before you’ve paid for them.

So, is this just all about greed?

Our children and grandchildren have to have the latest electronic gadget or phone, popular sneaker or boot, maybe a jacket with the North Face logo on it. You know the drill.

Whatever they want, they have to have. If their parents don’t buy it, maybe a grandparent will. If Dad and Mom are divorced, a kid might be lucky enough to convince one to splurge just to annoy the other.

Kids think if they have all the best, they’ll be one of the popular, “in” kids. Little do they know, it’s not that easy.

I’m glad to say that not all kids get everything they want. In some families, both Dad and Mom agree to boundaries.

A child can work for extra allowance by doing extra chores. Maybe the parents negotiate paying for half if the child can save the other half. Maybe the child has their own yard sale and makes some money that way. But no one gets anything for free unless it’s a birthday or Christmas gift.

And, of course, Mom and Dad are the role models. They stop and think before they buy anything just because they want it. They know that they need to need it.

A young mom posted on Facebook that she was looking for old fancy dresses, shoes, furs and jewelry for her daughter for Christmas. She’ll clean and press everything and make a “dress-up box” of her treasures. What a thoughtful, brilliant woman!

I also know parents who ask that no gifts be brought to their child’s birthday party. “Please make donations to Toys for Tots, or other nonprofits,” they say. What an example they set for their kids.

My daughter had a great plan for her two boys when they were little. They got an allowance for doing their chores. Fifty percent was theirs to spend, 40 percent went into the bank and 10 percent they had to give away.

Now that they are older, thinking of those less fortunate than themselves and doing volunteer work is automatic.

Will Davis Jr. wrote a book titled “Enough: Finding More by Living with Less.” He basically asks the question, “When is enough enough?”

I ask you to look around you and ask yourself that question. For almost all of us, we have much more than enough.

 

– Special to the Press Herald