In the groaning aftermath of Thanksgiving, the nation is already casting its insatiable eyes to the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, the official kick-off of the year-end Hail Mary consumerama sometimes quaintly referred to as Christmas.

Shopping isn’t just the central transaction in an economy that’s rapidly evolved from manufacturing to consuming. It’s at the core of our identity. Get the best thing, get the best deal, but by all means get something. Throw out the old stuff and repeat.

It’s trite to be overly judgmental about this – we’re all complicit in this frantic paddling in the shallow end. We might be grateful instead that this relentless materialism has provided amazing prosperity no only to ourselves but to people around the world who labor to make and ship the objects of our restless desires. Our retail, marketing, and advertising industries depend on people buying more sweaters and iterations of gadgets than they know what to do with.

Like all marketing gimmicks, Black Friday is no longer enough. It isn’t even true anymore, in terms of being the day when retailers’ bottom lines finally go into the “black” for the year – we buy like crazy all year long. So now we also have Virtual Monday, for deal-seekers who don’t want to leave the warmth of their computers. And under consideration: an American launch of Boxing Day, the traditional British holiday that gave the servants December 26 off since they had to man their employers’ parties the day before. It could be a great way to goose those all-important after-Christmas sales, proponents argue.

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