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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Black Friday and Other Woes

Oh how I hate Black Friday. It seems to get more inflated every year. The hype started even earlier this year. And I've heard that most retail establishments are feeling the pinch of a tight economy so much so that they've planned to repeat Black Friday sales until they meet their numbers.

Stuff Stuff Stuff. I get so tired of the push for more stuff. That isn't what it's all about, is it? I mean, has Santa really replaced _____ (fill in the blank with your chosen religion's seasonal symbol!) This time of year some members of my family, not blood related mind you, call frantically asking for details on all the STUFF that we want. I like to fondly refer to them as my outlaws. It's taken almost 15 years of marriage to make them realize I just won't do a list. It's not in me. The one year I caved on this ethical issue, it wrecked my holiday. And not only that, but I bought a few of the things on my list much to their chagrin and I refused to give them any more information about thread count, color, number or size. Their repeated phone calls met with my nonwillingness to play the game. One of my outlaws even had her Christmas list bound at Kinkos. It literally made me ill to visit her home any time of the year, seeing her Christmas list front and center on her refrigerator so she could add at will. The binding of the list pushed me over the edge.

I won't allow Young One to create a list. He's been dropping not so disguised hints lately and it's really quite funny. He still believes in Santa, and I do too! But, we really do make this holiday more about togetherness and happiness and not all about the STUFF.

I mean, how hard is it to shop for someone and to be creative enough to surprise them. If you know them well or even if you don't. Think outside the meticulously wrapped Christmas box (with bow purchased at Hallmark for $14.95 no less!). Give them the gift of an experience or make a donation in their name. Wander a grocery store and fill a basket with impulse buys. It's not that hard is it? It is the thought that counts, so if you require someone to make a list, how much thought have you put towards a gift--and what does that mean about how you feel about someone?

But, I'm digressing, back to the original thought.

I've only gotten up early once on Black Friday. I waited outside an OfficeMax store, internally berating myself for my participation in this odd tradition. I made small talk with a group of young college guys who wouldn't tell me what they were there to purchase, just in case I might battle them once we're inside, so I kept my mouth shut. Maybe this is what you do, I thought. Maybe I should keep the fact that I was clutching my now cold coffee mug waiting outside the doors of an office store at 5 in the morning just to get a free scanner (with rebate) and a cordless phone for $4 (with rebate). Oy!

The doors opened, everyone rushed, I thought I heard a few screams and I'm sure I felt a few feet trampling mine. There were employees directing traffic with deer in the headlights faces. One pointed me towards a ceiling high stack of scanners. I grabbed one, careful to step away from the pile just as a lady using her electric cart as a battering ram knocked the top layer off the tower. I ran to the checkout only to wait 30 minutes in line. I drove home, sweating, shaking and dodging road rage. I got the scanner, even remembered the damn rebate forms, but had completely forgotten the phone.

The scanner never did work. We just thew it out a couple of months ago. I did get the rebate, but it was in the form of store credit and I really have no need for great quantities of office supplies, so the rebate expired.

Moral of the story? I will be sleeping in, as much as I can on Black Friday. I will laugh and grimace at the same time when I see or hear about other's experiences. I will turn the channel when the news channels show people trampling over each other to get this year's "Cabbage Patch Doll" (remember those?). And I will still not make a list. It just isn't in me, nor is this pursuit of stuff stuff stuff.


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