Free snow globe at JCPenney! Free scarf with purchase at Express! My heart would sing as I flipped through the glossy circulars, and I would begin to plan the next day’s shopping route like a general planning for battle. This was before so many stores decided to open at 4 a.m. or midnight or even on Thanksgiving, so my Black Friday would start at a comfortable 8 or 9 in the morning, and I’d still score the coveted doorbusters.
As time went by, the Black Friday siren song called to me louder and louder, and soon Thanksgiving was passing in a haze of smudged circulars and fuzzy screenshots with only the vague memory of turkey and family squashed around a table. Black Friday was a shopaholic’s holiday, and I thrilled at the buzz of being surrounded by holiday shoppers shuffling through stores while Christmas music blared at various levels of annoying.
This was my day, and I enjoyed it.
What could compare to the weight of overstuffed shopping bags about to rip? On Black Friday, I was a mighty hunter, and inside I would roar with delight at sales of 50 percent off — or more! The euphoria could not last.
Eventually, adult responsibilities outweighed the charm of a day of mad spending. As the sales started earlier and my wallet grew thinner, the thrill of the biggest shopping day of the year began to fade. At first, online shopping seemed the answer. I would happily hop on Amazon or Victoria's Secret and spend hours filling my virtual cart while football blared in the background and loved ones laughed over jokes I did not hear.
It didn't take long to realize that not only was my wallet still shrinking but so was my family. Jobs and marriages soon dictated a shorter Thanksgiving, and the few precious hours of family togetherness could not be wasted on the pursuit of acrylic sweaters and outdated cameras.
Black Friday has finally taken a backseat to Thanksgiving.
Last year, I did a turkey trot with one of my brothers, and the excitement of crossing the finish line was better than any sale. Afterward, we went home to family and turkey and a Skype session with our out-of-town brother. It was a day of feasting and gratitude, and it brought me the contentment I had looked for in holiday shopping.
I confess that I still glance through the paper on Thursday morning and check my email for sale updates. Old habits die hard, but it’s become a tiny piece of my day and not the defining moment.
Friday morning finds me nestled in my bed. I let the early birds wait in line for hours and fight over doorbusters while I spend the morning in my pajamas enjoying the long holiday weekend. Sometime in the afternoon, I might venture out but not really to shop. Instead, I soak up the holiday spirit that can still be found in a store newly decorated for Christmas, and I watch the frazzled shoppers go by. I was like them once.
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