First thing Thanksgiving morning I gather up all the quarters I can find (because I never remember how much an actual newspaper costs anymore) and head over to the Farmer Boys across the street to raid the paper vending machine and buy the one newspaper I look forward to every single year - the Black Friday Ads edition! Sure that's not what the actual content of the newspaper is all about, but that's all I care about it for. Then I rush home and reverently open the paper and start going through the ads one by one. Inevitably someone else will walk in and try to grab an ad to look at, and if they're lucky they only get the evilest eye you've ever seen; if they aren't lucky, they just might get their hand slapped. Once I finish the entire set of ads, I usually start combing through them again and by now I let everyone else take a look too so we can start to plan our attack. The favorite ads become dog-eared and worn and the rest are politely discarded off to the side. The favorites usually include Target, JC Penney, Sears, Michaels, and more. The ones that are usually tossed to the side are home improvement and electronics.
Throughout the day on Thanksgiving the ads will be looked at again with each new person that comes into the house.
Finally, it's Thanksgiving evening and all the dishes have been washed, the leftovers are put away and everyone has their pants unbuttoned so they could fit in just one, or ten, more bites of pie. We begin to say
goodnight knowing that we are going off to dreamland with the plans for the next day all laid out and ready to go.
The alarm goes off at a ridiculously early time when most people wouldn't even dream of being awake and I sluggishly come alive knowing that I ate way too much food the night before, but am excited and ready to start my day! After tip-toeing through the bedroom and getting ready in the dark, I bundle up and head through the house waking up the kids that requested to head out with us...and hmmm...that probably usually falls along gender lines with the girls opting in and the boys choosing to sleep. Go figure. Then we grab some coffee and put on our gloves and head out the door gathering friends and family along the way. You get to the store (usually Target for us) and excitedly chat with others in the line remembering the years that you had newborn babies bundled up or the time you brought a deck of cards and played Gin Rummy while waiting. You remember the years when stores had freebies to entice you in and you remember that one really, really cold year that Target employees brought hot cocoa out to the people standing in line. You remember running into friends and coworkers - all of you looking a little drowsy, but yet still festive and bright somehow. The clock begins to tick down and you go over the game plan one more time. Then the store opens and the madness is released! You get that rush of adrenaline and you all head off to the different directions of the store to get your "assigned items" according to The Game Plan.
After spending several hours out pushing through crowds, making holiday purchases, and getting punchy from turkey hangover and lack of sleep you stumble back home to the family all snuggled up and haul in your bags to hide before everyone wakes up. Some years you get home late enough that the family is already awake and then you have to shoo them all out of the way so you can sneak in the bags and securely stuff them away in their hiding spot. And by the time many people are just barely waking up, you're already sitting by the fire marveling at your accomplishments! ~END~
To say that Black Friday has been a big tradition in our family for a long time is an understatement! We began Black Friday shopping out of necessity when my boys were younger and if I remember right the first year was for the Pokemon games. Yeah, I had two boys that really, really, really wanted those games!! And they were a hot item so I knew if I wanted them I was going to have to get out there early. So me, my mom and my sister all agreed to stand in line together to accomplish that goal. Target was so highly organized they came out and handed out tickets (I think) for these games specifically because they were such high demand. And thus, the tradition was born! We actually had a ton of FUN as weird as that is to some folks. And we went year after year after year until it was firmly entrenched in our family lexicon.
But now...now the stores are completely taking that tradition away from me!!! It just breaks my heart to see something that I began when I had girls in preschool coming to an end when I have enjoyed bringing both of my girls AND both of my daughters-in-law into over the years. The last two years we went to Walmart when it opened on Thanksgiving night and it was absolutely dreadful. Last year we went to Target when it opened at 8:00 PM and then returned out to hit Penney's when it opened at 4:00 AM. But this year I am completely frustrated by the entire thing because what was awesome about Black Friday shopping was the waking up the next morning and sneaking out of the house while everyone slept! It was like you were truly playing Santa Claus and sneaking around while visions of turkey legs and pumpkin pie danced in their heads.
Now the stores would have me eat dinner at 2:00 PM so I could hurry up and sit in line at my favorite store waiting for the doors to open at 8:00! But the problem is that because of work schedules we aren't even going to be eating turkey until about 5:00 PM or later, so what's a Black Friday Family to do????
I read this article the other day that shed some light on the Black Friday turning into Cash-Till Thursday and the fact that stores opening earlier and earlier is because they can't afford NOT to.
I get it, I really do; stores need to make a profit to survive. But do they have to suck all the fun, tradition, and family time out of it at the same time? Does a few hours really make a difference if they all agree to open on Friday instead of Thursday???
At any rate, I fear that this tradition we have had for the past 15 years (I'm guessing, but it's got to be close to that!) is going to come to an end, if not this year than very soon. Someday we will all reminisce in our old age about when we used to go Black Friday shopping, but the younger generation will all look at us with clueless stares because they won't even know what Black Friday is because the holiday shopping season begins the day after Halloween and that's not always a Friday.
But if I'm not out at the stores, I won't be buying those things anymore because it's amazing what kind of impulse purchases you make when you have a turkey hangover!
I'm still not sure what I'm going to do this year, but whatever it is you can bet that my Thanksgiving evening will NOT be spent at Walmart pretending I'm a participant in The Hunger Games.
How about you - Black Friday; yea or nay??