When you picture a face being pressed up against a window, it’s usually a good thing. You think of sweet anticipation of what’s on the other side. Christmas shopping used to bring up that picture for me, but if you are talking about Black Friday, it’s just not the same.
Early in working life I found myself in a retail job at Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving was busy, but it wasn’t anything like it is now. There were big sales, and at the most we opened an hour early. There weren’t the crushing crowds or fighting over the five items at a particular store. No one trampled Elmo (although there were long lines for Cabbage Patch Kids) and they certainly didn’t brawl over televisions.
As the years passed, Black Friday became more of an event to survive than a great opportunity to get good bargains. It was a group event for some, a lonely endeavor for others. At some point I found myself going through ads while the tryptophan induced drowse took over. Often something on my shopping list —more often my own wish list — would stand out. It sounded wise at the time, but I think there was something inside of me that just wanted to win. It was as if there was a competition to get the best deals on the most toys.
At some point, more was just more. It wasn’t special as much as it was grueling. It lost its charm the day a crowd pressed my mom, well into her sixties, up against a window as the doors began to open. It didn’t matter how early we had arrived, others made it their mission to get there first in order to get the most. After that and the never ending “How early can we open this year?”, Black Friday lost its appeal completely. I mean really, so many stores start on Thursday, can we even really call it “Black Friday” anymore?
Perhaps it would be different if I had friends to go with. I picture some of my dearest hitting one or two stores before choosing a place for brunch. We’d laugh over coffee and pancakes while dreaming of the upcoming holidays. We would pull out our planners to make sure we fit in at least one more festive gathering before life became too busy again.
These days I’m happy to wake up to a slow morning, warm in my home. Fuzzy slippers, hot coffee doused with egg nog and leftover pumpkin pie are all the excitement I need on that morning. There is no item on anyone’s list that is worth fighting a crowd over. The two for one socks or BOGO towels cost sleep as well as time. In two years you’ll want a different TV, computer or phone. The must-have toy will soon end up in the “free” box at a garage sale.
Spending time with my people with the main purpose of adventuring together sounds like a better way to kick off the Christmas season.
Do you have a Black Friday tradition? How do you feel about skipping the shopping? Do you shop with a crowd?