It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Disability & Holiday Shopping

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By Kathe Skinner

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every wall is a door.” We people with disabilities know about both.  We’ve persevered by busting down walls.  We are tough, competent, purposeful and resilient, but we’re no match for doors that become walls.

Black Friday is a good example of a “door that becomes a wall”.  Some people love to camp out for days in the cold and dark, waiting in long lines for a store’s doors to open so they can push and shove, and sometimes physically and verbally abuse others, in order to buy made-in-China stuff they think they can’t live without.

Who does this? In my opinion, anthropologists and geneticists would do well tapping this population for clues to early man.  But evidently, more people than I thought take part in this seasonal ritual: according to the National Retail Federation, in the four days of Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday, $59.1 billion was spent, a new record – up 13 percent from last year.  So much for the tough economy.

If you have a disability, visible or invisible, the truth of holiday shopping isn’t filled with fa la la la las.  Most of us will never compete for one of the four discounted big screens a store has in stock.  We’ll never get to save money on Black Friday sales because there’s no way we can thunder along with the rest of the herd.  In fact, unless the store has automatic doors, we can’t even get in.

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