I love shopping. In fact, The Hubby would argue that I have a shopping problem.
See, I love everyday shopping: Target runs, grocery store trips, mall visits. I love shopping online with Amazon, or ModCloth, or Bath and Body Works. Most of all, I love walking around Barnes and Noble, stopping to read the jacket of every cover that catches my eye. I could do that kind of shopping all year.
I love Christmas shopping, too, especially at the mall. Our local mall gets all decked out with garlands and ornaments throughout the corridors, and Santa sits in front of a giant tree at center court. And the individual stores? Forget about it. I find myself going green with envy every year after looking at some of the shop displays. (Can you tell that looking at all the Christmas decorations is one of my favorite things about holiday shopping? It makes my heart happy.)
But Black Friday? Keep me far, far away. In-store or online, I want nothing to do with it. Few things make my heart less happy than watching people run each other over, pushing, hitting, and screaming at each other so they can score a deal on a Christmas present. It goes against everything that the spirit of Christmas is about. I mean, come on. People have been arrested on Black Friday. People have died on Black Friday. And for what? To get a flat-screen TV at half-price? Is a TV really worth potentially risking your life?
That’s another thing — it’s not even just Black Friday anymore. So many stores are opening on Thanksgiving night now, and it’s truly ridiculous. We’re not even talking about midnight anymore; Toys R Us is going to be opening at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day. FIVE P.M.!!!! I was raised to believe that Thanksgiving Day was about spending time with family and friends, sharing love and thanks for the food, shelter, and people we’re blessed to have. For my family, it’s about spending the morning preparing a huge meal, and then spending the afternoon eating and watching football, and then falling into a tryptophan-induced food coma by nightfall. For many, it’s apparently about scarfing down some food as quickly as possible, maybe gathering some brave relatives and friends, and charging through the doors of Target or Best Buy or the mall at 8pm to save some money. I understand that times are tough, jobs are being lost, and money is tight for many people. I don’t understand how that justifies cutting off a major holiday (and serious family time) to go shopping. It’s just never made sense to me.
I can recall one time that I went shopping on Black Friday. The Hubby and I had spent Thanksgiving in Delaware with my mom and stepdad, and my mom and I had plotted in secret to try getting into a Circuit City on Black Friday to purchase a GPS for The Hubby. We didn’t go on Thanksgiving night; we left around 6am on Friday morning, while the guys were still sleeping. I remember that the parking lot was crowded, but that there was an organized line getting into the store. They were counting heads and letting more customers into the store as some approached registers and left. I remember being very impressed by the organization and the cleanliness of the store, given that it was in fact Black Friday. I also remember my mom and I deciding that maybe, since the Circuit City experience was surprisingly pleasant, that maybe a Target or Walmart might actually not be so bad. We entered the Walmart, saw the utter destruction, and walked right back out. No shopping experience should be like that.
Since then, I’ve stayed away from all things Black Friday. The Hubby went to our local Walmart last year to pick up a few DVDs and Rubbermaid storage that was on sale, but that was it. He went for things that no one else was going for, so he had a fairly easy time in the store. He told me, however, that he had to park on the street outside the parking lot because every spot was taken, and that there were mobs of people who ran for the electronics and toys the second the doors opened. He said that the employees looked like they really didn’t want to be there (and can you blame them? I imagine they’d rather be home with their families than dealing with angry, selfish customers, even if it meant losing a paycheck). I don’t think he’ll be going shopping again, either.
The Hubby works a retail job on Saturdays, and he will be working on Black Friday this year. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t work at a register or at customer service. His job is in merchandise pickup, so he picks large items out of a warehouse and brings them to customers after they’ve paid for them. He’s been doing this for years now, and while it’s stressful to deal with customers who are flustered and tired from being out shopping all night, he enjoys getting to spend some time with his coworkers. His boss is one of Joshua Bear’s “honorary” uncles, and we visit every Saturday…but believe me, we will be staying home on Black Friday!
So the ugliest shopping day of the year is three weeks from today. I won’t be venturing out for it, but I wish the best of luck to anyone who is. I hope you find what you’re looking for and that you avoid any kind of trouble with other shoppers. Keep the spirit of love and giving in your heart, and a measure of forgiveness for crazy customers might be a good idea as well. Be careful out there, and enjoy!