My First Black Friday

In recent years, Canadians have been embracing the Black Friday frenzy, a phenomenon that was once exclusively American. My first encounter with this shopping extravaganza was during a trip to the United States for a hockey tournament over the American Thanksgiving Weekend – talk about a cultural shock!

Well the Covid virus finally got to us! My husband and I have successfully evaded the Coronavirus since it first arrived on our shores – but for the last week and a half – we’ve been sick in bed. While we are feeling much better these days – I confess – I have COVID brain fog and haven’t been able to focus on blogging, reading or even carrying on much conversation! So here – please find a revised and updated story about Black Friday! – I hope that those who celebrate American Thanksgiving – are getting excited about their upcoming holidays – but please look after yourselves keep clear of germs if you can!

woman in leather jacket holding shopping bags
Photo by Max Fischer on

Black Friday – Growing Up

I don’t remember at all hearing about Black Friday growing up. I do fondly recall watching American TV shows and commercials about Thanksgiving. Our Canadian Thanksgiving in early October had already passed, and was more of a celebration of fall, with a big family dinner. The American Thanksgiving that we watched on TV – seemed so much more spectacular – and just plain bigger. Bigger families, bigger dinners, football, a parade – and a kickoff to the Christmas season.


Black Friday History

The term “Black Friday” in the context of post-Thanksgiving sales is believed to have originated in Philadelphia in the 1960s. My understanding is that the phrase was initially used by police to describe the chaotic and congested traffic that occurred on the day after Thanksgiving as shoppers flocked to stores in preparation for the holiday season.

We Canadians didn’t experience that – as our Thanksgiving weekend had nothing to do with Christmas shopping – being earlier in the season – and was only a three day event – culminating on a Monday. Then back to school and work we went the next day!

Black Friday – Timing

Black Friday, as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season in the United States, traditionally takes place on the day after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday of November.

While Black Friday has historically been a one-day event, in recent years, many retailers have extended their sales to include the entire Thanksgiving weekend, and some even start their promotions earlier in the week or on Thanksgiving Day itself. Additionally, the rise of online shopping has led to the emergence of Cyber Monday, which takes place on the Monday following Thanksgiving and focuses on online deals.

I don’t know about you – but even here in Canada – I’ve been hearing ads for Black Friday for two weeks now – and Black Friday is next week! Any way – Back to my Story……..

My Black Friday Story

We lived for many years in a small rural haven which was outside of the Greater Toronto Area – but not too far. Our bunch of young children were kept busy with school, music and sports of all sorts. They played baseball, basketball, soccer, Church ball hockey and hockey. We kept our country children busy, but they were quite sheltered really – being always busy after school and living in a rural area – even though we were not that far from the big city.

In terms of shopping, the wild bunch barely got through a grocery store without some sort of mayhem ensuing. So they weren’t exposed to large shopping malls very often and certainly not an American supermall! There was everything they needed at two local small strip-style malls and besides, – I had a phobia of losing one of them in a crowd. (At least one of them was a runner/escape artist).

Black Friday Hockey Tournaments

At one point all of our children had hockey tournaments on the same weekend. Our daughter had joined a representative/travel hockey team, and we were to attend her first out of province tournament in Pittsburgh. At the time, I was aware that it was American Thanksgiving weekend, but I had no inkling that there was such a thing as Black Friday shopping. My husband took our youngest to a tournament I believe in Cleveland, while our other kids “guested” with friends. Divide and conquer was the plan!

After the long drive to Pittsburgh, my daughter and I settled into our hotel, expecting a focus on hockey preparations. Instead, a mysterious disappearance unfolded. Many parents stealthily slipped away, leaving the hotel eerily quiet. Some of the girls roamed the hotel corridors in groups – carrying bags of chips and knocking on doors. I had purchased a dinner in the hotel for my daughter, and then watched while a visiting – seemingly parentless girl dropped into our room and ate my daughter’s dinner. Was this the happy team dinner?

Girl playing hockey - goalie
Girl playing hockey – goalie

Where were the parents and coaches? Unbeknownst to us, they had boarded the team bus to a mall that opened its doors at the stroke of midnight. They returned in the early hours, laden with multiple televisions, electronics, and who knows what else.

The next day, we headed to the arena, anticipating international competition. It was rumored that college hockey scouts would be watching. Mario Lemieux had popped in to the dressing rooms at previous tournaments (as his daughters were players) – or so the story went. Would he drop in for a speech?

To our surprise, we faced Canadian teams from our local circuit. Some parents were absent, presumably recovering from their late-night shopping spree. The coach, looking a bit tired, had scored a deal on a big TV. There were no scouts, no Mario Lemieux and no American hockey players in this tournament.

After our initial defeat, the team was dropped off at the mall to partake in the Black Friday madness. The girls, bursting with energy, streamed off the bus, while parents scattered in pursuit of deals. I was left stunned, anxious, and surrounded by thousands and thousands of people. I lost sight of my daughter and anyone familiar – and wandered in a state of panic.

people reflecting in a mirror ceiling
Photo by Shelby Cox on

Thankfully, my daughter, always the tallest in a crowd, found me, took my hand, and together we navigated the shopping chaos.

Sometimes, unexpected experiences demand a deep breath and a willingness to go with the flow. It turned out to be a bonding moment my daughter and I will always cherish. The one thing that I have learned from years of kids sport – is to enjoy the moment! That’s all there is really.

Now, despite Canadians celebrating Thanksgiving in October, Black Friday has firmly planted its flag in Canadian stores. Reflecting on that memorable hockey tournament, where our team lost every game but had a blast, I wish our American neighbours a Happy Thanksgiving and (for those who partake in Black Friday) an incredible time shopping next week.

This year, I may take in a little Black Friday shopping – but all online. My husband and I are happy to be almost over our Covid symptoms, but I think we will pass on crowded places. We may make another turkey however – just for the two of us, while we watch some football and maybe a holiday movie! Happy Thanksgiving, and take care!

Alloy apparel black friday ad

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22 thoughts on “My First Black Friday

  1. We avoid malls in general and certainly so on Black Friday. Our local artists and craftspersons have an open studio the weekend after Thanksgiving with lots of good deals on one-of-a-kind treasures! Also, we celebrate “Plaid Friday’ around here and shop local merchants, a much more pleasant experience. Good music, gift wrapping, meeting up with friends and acquaintances, and the shopkeepers even have snacks!

  2. Well here’s my American take on the allureof Black Friday. If one likes to define their life by materialistic self indulgence rather than giving thanks to all on Thanksgiving, then Black Friday is “right up their alley.”

  3. We pretty much avoid the malls, especially in these ‘special’ occasions, such as Black Friday, Red Thursday LOL, or Boxing day, etc So much stress!!

    1. I’m with you! Even though we are back to being able to cross the border this year we will be staying home this time. Crowds make me stressed. Have a great day!

  4. The whole thing has gotten way out of hand. Originally, Black Friday was the sales time when businesses would be ‘out of the red’ and into the black financially for the year, but it has morphed into this immense consumer frenzy.
    Here in Vermont, and other New England states, many of us celebrate the day as Plaid Friday and honor our local businesses, wearing our plaids proudly. Our little downtown merchants have shop-local events, with music and snacks and gently kick off their holiday season. More importantly, we historically have our artists Open Studio the Friday through Sunday; we get issued a map, and travel round to all the artists studios tucked away on the backroads and byways, and we load up on some wonderful items for gift giving from hand-painted or knit scarves and hats, pottery, hand-made paper journals, essences and tinctures, teas, stained glass, pressed flowers, and so much more. It’s become a wonderful ritual, and a way of supporting our neighbors rather than obsessively purchasing junk from China.

  5. Glad you are feeling better. COVID sure knocks people out with fatigue that lasts a while too. Rest, take care of yourself. Happy Holidays from Chicago. 💕

    1. Thank you so much! Hope you enjoyed your holidays. I am feeling better, but still pretty lazy – and the brain fog kept me off the blog for quite a while! Stay healthy and enjoy December!

    1. Feeling better the last few days. I am hoping your Black Friday was pleasant and tolerable! Black Friday has spread across the ocean hasn’t it!

    1. Feeling a little better these days – but moving slowly! Thanks so much for your good wishes. I just had wanted to say something – because I just couldn’t put any sentences together for the longest time – with a bit of “brain fog”. Starting to get back “at it” now. Stay healthy!

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