159. Black Friday

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The day after Thanksgiving has become America's wildest shopping day. Closed all day on Thursday, chain stores all across the nation open early on Friday. Some stores open at 12:01 Friday morning, while others open at 4 a.m. Some "sleepyhead" stores, like Target this year, don't open their doors on Friday until 6 a.m. From Friday to the day before Christmas, this is the season when businesses make as much as 25 percent of their annual revenue. This season puts many businesses "in the black"—that is, into profitability—for the year.

Reporters from local TV stations interview people who camp out in front of stores a day or two before the doors open on Friday. These people patiently wait in line to get products that are discounted 50 percent or more.

"Oh, we have fun," said one camper. "We bring games to play, we watch TV and order lots of pizza, and we meet interesting people. And, most important of all, we save big bucks!" The catch, of course, is that only a very small number of products are available at the largest discounts. Regardless, each store has plenty of other items that are reduced from 10 to 50 percent—saving shoppers from $10 to $400 per item—to entice Americans to shop.

Not all Americans appreciate this frenzy of shopping. Reverend William Graham, pastor of the Church of the Risen Jesus, wants to rename Black Friday. "We want to call it Remember Jesus Friday. People should start the season with the right attitude. Christmastime has become a Season of Shopping. We want to make it a Season of Giving. And we don't mean giving IPods, DVDs, flat screen TVs, and other crap. We mean giving your back, your mind, and your hands. Help an old lady clean up her house. Teach a kid how to read. Visit sick people in the hospital or in nursing homes. Pick up the trash in your neighborhood. Give blood to the Red Cross. Do volunteer work for charities. Celebrate Christmas by remembering Jesus and forgetting Santa Claus."


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