Our Story Begins:
When Black Friday Comes
What do you do when Black Friday Comes?
I’m like a lot of people in the media. When the day comes I’ll be working. I have to be honest with you . . . I’d much rather be working than dealing with stores during Black Friday. I get it, though, I understand the drive, the need to go after the bargain. I get emails from every retailer: from Target to Amazon to Best Buy to MarieBelle Chocolates. (They’re yummy, by the way, and you can get them online) I see the little ads, the tease of “50 inch LED TV for $129.” I feel the twinge of my pocketbook go “maybe I could go just for a little while . . . ”
But no. I did Black Friday one year and one year only. I hear about the deals and lines and campers in tents outside Best Buy for a week and remember the one and only day in my life I ever put myself through that.
We lived in Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth, and my wife determined that the kids should get a trampoline. Not only was there a “killer Black Friday Deal” on one, it was at Wal Mart. 4am rolled around and the alarm went off and my wife, the idea maker, informed me that it would be more efficient if I went…somebody had to stay home with the kids after all.
Mayhem didn’t describe it.
Like a scene out of a 1980’s concert by The Who, people were pressed against the door and windows of the store like a bad commercial. When they opened, a couple even tripped and were stepped upon by the mass of humanity. I needed one thing – a trampoline – and went straight to sporting goods. No trampolines, at 4am, in a mass of humanity that made Lord of the Flies look like Utopia by comparison. I had to chase down an attendant who tersely informed me that the trampolines were in frozen foods.
You read that right, frozen foods.
Even though it said “ask a staff member for help” I grabbed a vacant cart and headed to checkout. I was unaware that the first 100 people at checkout got a free DVD player. This wasn’t a Sony, Panasonic, or Phillips, it was like something sold on Canal Street in New York. I didn’t even recognize the brand. Two women in front of me in line abruptly got into a fist fight over the last DVD player.
I informed my wife that, even if next year the gift costs double . . . I’m paying full price.
This isn’t me railing for workers’ rights. This isn’t even me talking about what a recent Salon article mentioned – that the big box stores have lobbied and paid more politicians to get tax breaks than ever before.
My lesson is this: we no longer have the trampoline. It moved from 3 different houses, sure. We enjoyed it, that’s for sure. When my wife died in 2011 we lost half our income. I went into a mad-dash panic about whether I should partake in said Black Friday events. I worried that, with Christmas being such a big event in my house, the holiday would be an even bigger disappointment for the year. My kids were the ones who showed me differently.
That picture up there is my son, from the first Christmas without their mother. They decorated each other. We bought a tree. The number of presents was far less than the years before but the kids didn’t even care.
Since then, we’ve had Christmases with presents the kids had no idea were coming. I moved to buying a lot of presents online and realized that the stress and angst I was feeling was just that: angst only I was feeling.
I came to realize that the fact we were together, having fun, listening to Christmas music as we decorated and, of all things, smiling . . . made Christmas amazing.
Since then, I’ve never felt down about Black Friday tugging at my pocketbook. My kids also showed me they never felt bad about whether I got the newest, best, most wonderful present.
The best present, they said, was that I was home with them.
What about you? Do you enjoy Black Friday? Do you shop for bargains, is it the best deal for you?