Recently, in this column, I noted how Halloween had become a month-long celebration and how we had embraced this development without question. At the time I suggested it was a way of breaking up the year into small, manageable segments, giving us something to look forward to every few weeks like the dithering idiots we are.
And I thought that after Halloween came Christmas. I thought eight weeks wasn’t too long for us to wait, that our levels of dopamine would slowly regulate before the next big rush of excitement. Of course, as usual, I was wrong. Because while I was keeping a watchful eye out for Thanksgiving, ready to pounce on any Irish person who threatened to adopt a holiday which has no relevance in this land, another American import was sidling up behind me.
Black Friday. Blue Monday. Super Cyber Sunday. Whatever the hell it’s called.
We’ve had this event for a few years now, wordlessly accepted it sometime after the last great recession. We were primed for it then, so broke and miserable that anything with the word ‘savings’ in it sounded like a good idea.
In theory it is a good idea, a good American idea. After they have given their thanks, ate their turkey and watched their football, our Stateside cousins become razor-focused on Christmas. Thanksgiving serves as the last supper, the big feed to sustain them before battle commences.
The shops, having teased and poked them for weeks, hire extra security, unleash the deals and unlock the doors, leaving the animals to fight among themselves.
Before we joined the fight we watched on from afar, laughing at the silly yanks as they brawled over an 88 inch TV. We’re not laughing now. We’re brawling with the best of them.
But like Halloween the lines have become blurred, the event has been elongated, and no-one really knows when it begins or ends. Traditionally regarded as a one-off opportunity to pick up high-end electrical goods on the cheap, tech retailers have been banging the drum for weeks now, turning the entire month of November into one giant sale with a mega-super-duplex sale at the end of it.
And inevitably, in the face of their bright, bodacious adverts offering TVs a mile wide with built-in rocket ships and a secret entrance to the matrix, our standard three-year-old high-definition televisions seem weak and pitiable, a source of shame and embarrassment in the corner of the room.
If you are in the market for a new television, a new vacuum cleaner, a laptop, tablet, or air-fryer, then Black Friday is a welcome addition to the calendar, even more so if you’re buying as a Christmas present. It doesn’t just extend to electrical retailers now either, you can get anything on Black Friday, if you’re willing to beat an elderly lady to death for it.
Some of the sales will take place online, but this is very much an in-person event, a survival of the fittest kinda gig, where you nominate the strongest member of the house to go out there and represent the family with pride and return with as much as their broad shoulders can carry.
It’s not very Irish though, is it? Sales? Aren’t they what January is for? And even then we’re a bit half-hearted about it, too tired, too cranky, to countenance “shops and all that”. No, we like to just “head into town for a look” with no particular plan in place; we might see a telly for €499.99 and buy it for the craic, same as we might spend an hour at the counter in Penney’s trying to get a refund for a €10 pair of pants.
All this hustling and bustling just isn’t us, we’ve seen too much, suffered too often, to behave in such an undignified fashion.
Or at least I thought we had.
Because even now, with money so tight, life so hard, the battle-lines are being drawn, the tents pitched, avengers assembled. The targets have been identified, funds checked, training completed, and point of entry detected. The game is officially afoot.
Personally I’d rather pay the extra €50, wait the few weeks, than go shoulder to shoulder with some tough young buck sent down from the hills. Sure Christmas is weeks away and if I want something on the cheap I can wait until January.
Or maybe I’m just saying that. Maybe it’s a ploy. See you Friday.