BLACK FRIDAY! Those two words either bring fear or joy to your heart. You are either one of them or one of them. Everyone has a strong opinion on it one way or the other. There is no in-between.
I love Black Friday! Some of you may think I’m crazy. I may be, but I love it. There is just something about getting out early and braving the weather and the lines to get that incredible deal. I am a bargain shopper! I also love the rush of getting in the crowds and trying to get that last box of Legos for $10.00 or that new digital camera for $50.00. Several years ago, I got up at 3:00 a.m. to drive 30 miles to stand in line to get a dual portable DVD player for our van. (Yes, I know I’m showing my age because nobody buys those things anymore.) Three in the morning is nothing now. We get going at midnight!
Well, we actually get started before midnight. This exciting event now takes place at my sister-in-law’s house. Thanksgiving is spent there in Tulsa, almost three hours away from where we live. We awaken early Thanksgiving morning and travel to their house. As all of our families have grown, it has been wonderful to have to add so many tables. I know that is the true meaning of this holiday: to be thankful for what God has given us and to be with loved ones–but we all love Black Friday!
After our incredible meal, the “girls” all sit around the table with the newspaper. This is a sight to behold. I am not going to give away all of our secrets, but I will share an overview of what transpires. Needless to say, we are very organized. We start with the first ad, circle what we want with bright markers and initial it, then pass it around the table. When everyone has finished, we go through and put them in order of store opening times. Then we check for duplicate items and find the best prices and make our list. We then make sure we have our shirts ready or make our new ones. Yes, we print up matching shirts for all of us! We don’t make new ones every year. We’ve even had strangers stop us and even take pictures with us in our shirts.
We try to take a nap! This does not always happen–most of the time it doesn’t. Okay, that may be wishful thinking. But, we do try to get things ready. There have always been four of us. This consists of my sister-in-law, niece, niece’s husband, and me. The niece’s husband is a 300+ pound former college football linebacker (you should see him in a bright pink shirt) so he is there for “protection” – and comedy relief. The last couple of years, we have started adding to our group. My sister-in-law’s granddaughter (She is not my great-niece because I am not that old. Only old people are “great” whatevers.) was allowed to go because she had turned sixteen. And now my daughter is counting down the years until she can go.
We all have our respective jobs! I am the “Bargain Hunter”. I search out the the items that we did not find quickly. I also pick up things for a friend who hates Black Friday shopping but wants some of the bargains. She even calls to check in with me to see how things are going. I will admit that Black Friday shopping is much easier with the invention of the cell phone. I often wonder what the increase in usage of cell phones is on that day.
We have a great time! We go from store to store. We also make several pit stops. I do not know if you have a Quik Trip where you live (I don’t), but I believe that it is the best place while Black Friday shopping. They have giant drinks, the best hot snacks (regular or breakfast), and of course clean restrooms (women’s and men’s, and women do go to the men’s when no one is around). I also get very “punchy” when I get tired. Around two or three in the morning, I start laughing at everything. This is where the nephew-in-law comes in. He starts with all the dumb jokes to see how much he can get me laughing. My favorite is still, “Two men walked into a bar; the third one ducked.” Think about that one. I also learned about YouTube from him. My favorite is “Dumb Ways To Die”. Apparently, this is an actual public service announcement from Australia. That makes it even funnier.
Sometimes we take a nap in the car! This we actually do. If there is a store that only one person needs something from, two go in and the rest of us take our nap. Somehow, we make it through the night and finish up by no later than 10:00 a.m. We then go home, take a nap, then go out for pizza. This is as good as Thanksgiving dinner. We go to a buffet. Yes, Thanksgiving dinner one day followed by pizza buffet the next day!
I missed this event last year. Our van broke down one hour from our house. By the time we got towed back home it was late. Our other vehicle had bad tires so it could not make the trip. My son’s car only seated four and we are a family of five. We were stuck at home with nothing but the desserts. Have you ever cooked a Thanksgiving dinner in two hours? I did, and it was actually good and completely gluten-free (my husband has a true gluten allergy).
I did take my kids shopping around 9:00 a.m. when my friend called to see how it was going. Of course, I got a lecture of why I did not call and tell her we were broke down and didn’t make it to Tulsa. They would have towed us home and we could have come over for dinner, etc. I had several of those offers and that overwhelmed me. My niece even called and said that it was not as much fun without me. My sister-in-law told me that they even discussed meeting me in Oklahoma City to do our shopping. Our nephew offered to come and try to fix our van. For Christmas, my niece gave me one of the gifts that we would always go to the mall for. She had picked up an extra one for me. We were truly missed! Of course, we did learn a lesson: when you miss Thanksgiving, they plot against you. That is another story for another post. I will get even with at least our nephew.
Our traditions have evolved over the years, but last year reminded me just how great my family and friends are. We get out in all the craziness, but we enjoy being together and being there for each other. I would not trade that part of our family for anything.
Do you have a Black Friday story to share?
What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?