Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

From Thanks to Spanx

Last week in the U.S., individuals and families prepared and indulged themselves in Thanksgiving traditions. For many years, Thanksgiving meant lots of cooking, eating and leisure time spent with family and friends. When I was growing up, there was little planned once we left the Thanksgiving table. We talked, walked, played games and ate leftovers without a care in the world. Winter holidays seemed far away.

From Table to Store

The day after Thanksgiving is the traditional signal to commence holiday shopping, but until the 1990’s, the big holiday sales had been confined to the day after Christmas.  In the 1980’s, retailers suffered a downturn in consumer spending and wanted to encourage spending by promoting sales at the start of the holiday shopping season. Voila, “Black Friday” emerged.  For years I ignored it and even mocked those who stood in lines at midnight and 5 a.m., waiting to pounce on the choice items. Sales–especially crowded sales—can leave me paralyzed and unable to sift through piles of merchandise. There was nothing about Black Friday that appealed to me.

My thinking eventually evolved, thanks to gentle nudges from my wonderful brother-in-law, who is King of the Deal. I marvel at his ability to pinpoint a good bargain with laser-like precision, ferreting out only those items he really wants and needs. For the past four years, we have paired up, along with other willing family members, to begin our post-Thanksgiving shopping at 4:30 a.m. on Black Friday. We confine it to 3 hours and I’ve learned to stay focused, shopping at only 1 or 2 stores. It’s grown into a new tradition that much of the family eschews, but they are anxious to give us their shopping lists.

Has Black Friday interrupted our Thanksgiving holiday or merely provided a means for affordable holiday gifts? For our family, Black Friday is merely a few hours of concentrated shopping, when we may need to pick up a pair of new pair of Spanx to cover our over-indulgences from the previous day. We resume our holiday with breakfast on Friday morning at a local diner. And we relax, talk, walk and watch movies. The winter holidays still seem far enough away.

*photo image courtesy of cupcakeartist.wordpress.com


Janet Walkow is the Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Drug Dynamics Institute at The University of Texas and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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