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City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks

November 23, 2007 - Phyllis Sigal
Live, from New York ... it's Black Friday!

It's 10 p.m. Friday night. Black Friday. Nov. 23. Some people have been shopping since 4 a.m. this morning. I hope for their sakes, they're asleep by now.

I however, had the pleasure of traipsing up and down Fifth Avenue today, NYC. Past Versace, Tiffany & Co., DeBeers, Cartier, Saks, the Apple Store, Gap, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch and on and on and on .... Shops and shoppers and shopping bags and shopping carts and street merchants and homeless and Salvation Army Bell Ringers, all gathered together on Fifth Avenue on this Black Friday.

I bought nothing, but that wasn't the point. It was the spirit of the holidays that I was after. I wanted to be caught up in the crowds. I wanted to admire the animated windows at Saks (pictured at right). I wanted to max out my credit card. (No, not really.)

I felt like I was in the middle of the song, "Silver Bells" all day. And I kept thinking about the amount of money exchanging hands all day. The people trying on designer boots at Saks ('the shoe department big enough to have its own zip code -- 10022!') and looking at Juicy Couture fashions where a sweatshirt hoodie costs $118 and the checkout lines filled with people with arms full of purchases.

And then we passed the line of people waiting to go into the soup kitchen. My heart was heavy. I was glad I wasn't walking past with bags from Saks, from Lord & Taylor or even H&M where $1 and $5 items were advertised.

Shoppers were buying $800 boots. Men were standing in line for a free meal. $800 would feed them and their families for weeks.

I decided the holiday spirit meant more than buying and spending and wrapping. Of course I already really knew that. But I am going to remind myself of this image as it gets closer to the holidays.

... City sidewalk, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style. In the air there's a feeling of Christmas. City street lights, even stop lights, blink a bright red and green, As the shoppers rush home with their treasures. ...


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