Here in Britain we don’t have a lot. We have tea, cake and Benedict Cumberbatch but that’s about it. Every year at around this time we experience on our television sets what can only described as TG-Fest (Thanksgiving Fest). All of our imported shows from your country suddenly switch on the Thanksgiving story plot without warning in blatant disregard for the storyline of other episodes. That cousin who flew out to Australia last episode? He’s now back on the scene. The dog who was very much dead and/or non-existent? Well they’re now scampering about with Grandma May’s sausages (in an apparently hilarious fashion). It makes no sense.
This however is nothing in comparison to how us Brits react to the general concept of Thanksgiving. Every year we get caught up in this moral no man’s land of envy and pride when your national celebration comes into conversation. We envy you because we in Britain have no such celebration of ‘thankfulness’. We have Christmas, sure, but Thanksgiving is a festival with actual historical routes, a festival which doesn’t bond itself to a particular religion or custom. An alien from Mars could rock up the day before Thanksgiving and quickly understand what it’s all about. While Christmas truly is a great occasion, it’s a festival that often seems embarrassed by it’s own upbringing. It’s as if God is the most uncool parent figure of all time. You watch any Christmas film released in recent times and you’ll find it to be a movie completely devoid of religious connotation, but instead shoved full of Santa, presents and generic ‘festive’ music (i.e. everything commercial). You’ll struggle to find so much as an extra muttering the phrase ‘fully booked’ out of fear it’ll make the movie religious – even though Christmas has the word ‘Christ’ in it…
That said, we in the UK hate the thought of having to spend more time and money on family than needs be, so we also look down on Thanksgiving. We will happily sip on pumpkin lattes while you toil over pumpkin pies. For people like me who have their birthdays around this time of year, the thought of having three big events happen in the space of two months sounds like a social and logistical nightmare that I’d rather avoid. How do you guys coordinate present and card drops alongside work dos and catch up drinks? I feel stressed just thinking about it. I may pine for an extra day off to do nothing, but I certainly do not envy the chaos that must ensue beforehand.
Regardless of how we react to Thanksgiving, you guys seem to be content on exporting your culture, like it or not. This, dear America, is where I and many, many, Brits take issue. What the stuff is this Black Friday nonsense you’ve decided to dump on us? In the form of the mighty Amazon.com, your country bestowed Black Friday on us a few years back, it was like a neighbour who you’ve lived next to for ten years deciding to randomly give you a bottle of shampoo. You don’t need shampoo, you don’t particularly want shampoo, yet you’ve been handed it and, because you’re British, you’re morally obliged to accept it. Worse still, you feel bound to acknowledge this as normal. You’re bald-headed, it’s not ruddy normal, but then Britishness always trumps the bleeding obvious. This is what Black Friday is to us. Pointless but tolerated. It’s a needless excuse for companies to make us buy stuff we don’t want, to make us panic buy. Let me tell you America, if there’s one thing we don’t need to be taught, it’s how to panic buy. We’re pretty dam good at that already thank you very much.
I like to think myself in the growing minority, now borderline majority, who think this post-Thanksgiving festival is a joke. Last year my Black Friday purchases came to a total sum of £2.70. I went into a department store to buy tights, saw that everything had 10% off, shrugged shoulders and bought the same pack of tights for 30p less. From the multitude of ten elderly ladies in that shop, I can confirm that my feelings were replicated store-wide. It is no coincidence that said department store chain (BHS) has now closed down.
In short America, the residents of the United Kingdom do not care for your tat festivals. We do not give two hoots for Black Friday. You won the battle with Proms, Halloween and McDonalds, but you will not prevail with Black Friday. We have honestly got enough political tat of our own to be dealing with before we start maxing out our credit cards on Rod Stewart’s Greatest Hits CD. Maybe you thought you were being nice to share, maybe you don’t want us anywhere near Thanksgiving, but either way you made the wrong call. You and our British-based consumer giants went one step too far.
Behold, Black Friday in 2014:
Back Friday, 2015:
Based on this trend, I’d predict Black Friday 2020 to be little more than a racist parade staged by the English Defence League. But you know what? I’m not even surprised. I’ll actually to be happy to see the back of Black Friday in fifty years time when you guys finally stop flooding our airwaves with adverts for ‘deals of the century’, where stockists take £20 off that cheap Chinese drill they can’t shift.
So, happy Thanksgiving America. Us Britons wish you all the happiness and peace you seek on your special day. Suggestion; next year we take all your spiced pumpkin pies and paid leave and, in return, you can have 18% off selected toner cartridges. Seems fair, right?
Alice E. Bennett