Every American schoolchild learns the story of the first Thanksgiving. But there are no school plays about the first Black Friday…. (More)
As you can see, squirrels like to shop. Yes, you call it a “rampage” through your kitchen, or “raiding the bird feeder” or the garden. But for us, it’s shopping. And we squirrels are peaceful about it. unlike some of you:
So of course Black Friday is a big day for squirrels. Today Regis is taking his twin sisters Nancy and Michelle out to see if Ms. Scarlet has any bits of spare cloth in her sewing kit, so they can make Mrs. Squirrel a quilt. Don’t tell her. It’s supposed to be a surprise. But I digress.
Everyone knows The Story of the First Thanksgiving. It was a festive occasion where the men and women of the Massachusetts Bay Colony gathered to cook (women), eat (all, together), watch football (men), do dishes (women), and of course share the latest gossip (all, separately).
Okay, I made up the bit about football. Actually they played horseshoes. I know this because there were squirrels in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and we passed down the story of the first Black Friday.
See, back then in the would-have-been-suburbs-if-they-had-urbs, there were no malls. There wasn’t even a “downtown.” Well there was, but that’s where all the waste runoff pooled. It wasn’t what you’d call prime retail real estate. In fact, on the day after that first Thanksgiving, there weren’t a whole lot of shopping opportunities, what with everyone having spent their first year farming and going over to the neighbors to share or trade or borrow something and oh-so-casually slip in a “While I’m here, have you heard anything about so-and-so?”
So pretty much all they had was Johne Smythe’s Blacksmythe Shoppe. (“Est. 1620, Shirts and Shoes and Skirts Down To Ankles and Hats With Buckles Required, Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Eggs Cheerfully Refunded.”)
Needless to say, that kind of limited Christmas shopping lists:
MRS. FARMER: What would you like for Christmas, dear?
MR. FARMER: Hmm. I think I’d like a hoe.
MRS. FARMER: [Shocked.] A what?!?
MR. FARMER: For the garden, dear. To dig furrows and pull weeds and such.
MRS. FARMER: Ahh. Okay. Whew.
Most of that was done by horse-drawn plows. They also used horses to exchange their fresh produce, and of course to ride if they needed to share, borrow, or trade stuff (and exchange the latest gossip) with someone who lived three or four farms away. So they went through a lot of horse shoes and plowshares and other stuff made by Johne Smythe. (“Sorry, no checks accepted until someone starts a bank.”)
So on the Friday after that first Thanksgiving, imagine the surprise felt by Johne Smythe – (“If you have a complaint, tell me. If you’re happy, tell a friend!”) – when he arrived at his shoppe and found all those people in front of his shoppe, having camped out all night to be first in line to buy hoes and plowshares and horse shoes. He hadn’t even had time to finish stocking the shelves with hammers. (“New and Improved! Now with Ball Peens!”)
Needless to say, chaos ensued. Harsh looks were exchanged. Eggs were broken. The gossip said that Mrs. Farmer even uttered a curse, though she always insisted she merely said “Well bells!”
By the end of the day, Johne Smythe – (“Blue Blood Special On Aisle Nine! Ten Percent Off!”) – was exhausted. He was also out of horse shoes. On the plus side, Mrs. Smythe soon invented eggnog.
So there you have it. Black Friday is as old as Thanksgiving itself, and it’s called “Black Friday” because those hoes and plowshares and horse shoes and hammers were all black. At least they were that year. It would be a few years before Johne Smythe invented chrome finish (“New and Improved!”).
Good day and good nuts.