Black Friday

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I’m all for Black Friday. As you may already know, it’s sort of a tradition (albeit one that we could drop in the future if things get hectic) for my sister and I to have a bit of a sleepover on Thanksgiving, getting up around the 3am area, and shlepping out to stock up on reasonably-priced items. All year, I see a deal and think, “Is it as good as a Black Friday deal?” It has helped me define what I’m willing to pay for an item. This doesn’t apply to those one-of-a-kind items that will remind me that, “We bought that on our anniversary trip!” or “I got that for Dave when I was chaperoning a trip to NYC.” But, yeah. A deal is a deal.

I’m discouraged, however, when I tell people that, yes, I do, indeed, shop Black Friday. It’s assumed that I’ll…say…be willing to pepper spray a crowd to get at a wide-screen TV…or…say…pull hair and punch out some teeth for a cheap phone. Just because I, in verb form, “Black Friday”, doesn’t make me crazy. Lots of other things I’m do can attest to my craziness, I’m sure. But the fact that I want to spend some quality time shopping with my sister, obtain some considerable deals whenever possible (although, alas, the jeans I usually can snag for $11 were $14 this year…sigh), and start off the holiday season with warmth in my heart does not, in fact, make me crazy.

I know why I get an eyebrow raise or sneer, I do. I do my best to laugh it off. If they don’t understand that it’s part of a holiday tradition for me, that’s fine. Heck, I wrote an impassioned essay in college as to the hell of working Thanksgiving/Black Friday in retail – I’ve been there! I always try to be super polite to the workers, and honestly, we just have basic cable…do you think we’ll be getting a flat-screen anytime soon? Dave’s proud of the fact that we won’t, and that we have another extra old TV in the basement as insurance.

But, when I call my mother for our also-traditional 5am phone call (once we get to the second floor of JC Penney…it’s usually quieter and, here’s a hint, the lines are way shorter) or receive a text from my husband, both having watched the morning news and both worrying because a local Walmart had a case of trampling and other rude behavior, I get mad. Not mad at my mom (she has as much fun waiting to hear what we bought, especially since she usually sends us with a list – which I have fun finding!) or my husband (he’s a worrier, and I love him). I get mad at those fools who give the rest of us a bad name.

There’s a new reason that it’s called Black Friday. That blackness that can be found in every man’s soul (mind you, I also believe that there’s good in every single person, as well) seems to rise like cream to the top when a sick deal is to be had. Or, perhaps the tryptophan comas make folks cranky…if they even wait to finish their meal before going to a (I CAN’T BELIEVE IT) Thanksgiving Day sale! One might also call it Black and Blue Friday, and it’s shameful.

This is why my sister and I try to hit the lower-stress places. We never go to Walmart or Best Buy (well, we did BB years ago, but it was a lesson in patience and self defense). We almost always go to a department store, like JC Penney or Macy’s, depending upon the sales available. Some years, the items we need are split between numerous stores, so depending upon a) what deals will be gone already and b) how crazy busy the place will be, we prioritize. It takes a lot of strategery (name that SNL comedian) to keep one’s sanity on Black Friday.

We also try to go to a store that will provide more of a sense of Christmasy-ness, when possible. This year, after stocking up at JCP, we went to Michael’s. Just seeing the ornaments and decorations (even when not purchasing them; last year I remember stocking up at Hobby Lobby, though) and hearing the Christmas music (rather than the rumble of the crowd) is lovely.

Not that the experience at JCP was bad. The only difficulty was asking people if you could break through the line to get to a different section, since it was so long. It’s like they think we’d steal their spot in line. Nope, just need to look at the men’s socks.

We even had some silly, fun moments. Upon finding a particular shirt display (at an insanely low price), I dove in only to realize that the woman next to me was telling me all about her son’s size…at which time SHE realized that I wasn’t her shopping companion. We laughed quite a bit and I told her that she could tell me about his sizing all she likes – my brothers had impossible to find sizes, so I could relate. There were several moments like this. People weren’t fighting to get what they wanted. If the store was out, they were out.

As it happened, my sister thought that she’d missed out on an insane deal (I can’t say what the item was…this is Christmas, after all!), but at least we’d gotten everything else. While taking a moment to relax and call my mother, the manager came out with a cart full of the item to re-stock. Sometimes politeness karma really does exist! AND, since we had tons of time to spare (did we really HAVE to get up at 3:30?), we decided to shop a bit for her baby daughter. While we didn’t find much, we realized that the line had dwindled down to nothing…and the same thing happened for the customer service area (for obtaining boxes). What luck!

After a deliciously filling breakfast with my hubby and brother-in-law (Mary, alas, had to work — can you imagine, doing Black Friday then working?! I’m too lucky), Dave and I even hit up some more local shoppes. Just don’t tell him he went Black Friday shopping. I guess if it isn’t before 8am, it doesn’t count. 😉

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