The holiday spirit is upon us! I know this for a fact because I saw roughly 500 people seize the holiday spirit and stuff it into their shopping carts at Best Buy at 6:00 am last Friday morning. Nothing says “Happy Birthday Jesus” like season three of ALF on DVD (act surprised, Jon).
My family started participating in “Black Friday” five years ago. That was the year several of my basketball teammates came to my house for Thanksgiving. In an effort to make the girls feel more at home, Mom incorporated some of their family traditions into our holiday celebration. While most of the requests were for favorite family recipes (Duncan family macaroni and cheese, mmmmmmmmm), Katy mentioned that she and her mom always went shopping the day after Thanksgiving. At 5:00 am. Well! If the Bowens could rouse themselves out of bed at the butt crack of dawn, we certainly could. And so it began.
The first year we went out I didn’t buy anything except Fa-La-Lattes from Caribou Coffee. Katy shopped while Mom and I milled around Best Buy and Target and sleepily stared at people wheeling cartloads of merchandise out to their cars. I found a flyer at Best Buy that advertised inexpensive laptops, but when I asked a harried looking employee where I could find one he just stared at me. It turned out that the line of detritus we had passed on our way into the store had been left by people who had been waiting in line all night to get their hands on the laptops. I had a lot to learn.
Over the past few years I’ve learned the ins and outs of Black Friday. I’ve learned that if I want a 72” flat screen TV for $300 then I have to be willing to sit on my butt in the cold for 9 hours. I learned that other people are willing to sit on their butts in the cold for 9 hours. I learned that JC Penny gives out free snow globes to their first thousand shoppers and that Borders has free coffee and mini-muffins. I learned that I am unwilling to push elderly women out of the way in order to procure down comforters at 50% off, but I will shiv a child that gets between me and free coffee. We all have our secret shame.
One thing that has proven true over the course of my families’ Black Friday excursions is that we are never fully committed to the frenzy of the event. While other shoppers scour the stores with lists and coupons, we wander bemusedly from aisle to aisle, judging people and thumbing through stacks of picked over merchandise. Before this tradition dies (please, please let it die) I’m going to try to do Black Friday the way God intended. Next year I’m going to wear a t-shirt that says JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON while I’m standing in line outside of JC Penney at 3:00 am. I’d like my moral superiority to be blazingly apparent as I’m elbowing my way past other shoppers, hell bent on getting my hands on a commemorative snow globe. Happy Holidays, suckers.