Along with caffeine. A lot of caffeine.
I dress in my warmest fat pants (A must on the day after Thanksgiving.) a festive-ish top and winter accoutrement comet with mittens and ear muffs.
I pack my bag like a survivalist. I tuck in my spreadsheet of gifts to buy and my game plan for hitting the best spots at the best time. (This involves much contemplation and a city map. One must not waste time driving back and forth on a day such as this.) Knitting. (Needles double as a weapon and diversion.) A snack, most often: Chocolate. I grab my iPad and stuff it into my purse for last minute ad checking and diversion while I wait in the anticipated lines.
I fill a travel mug with as many shots of espresso as I can fit in into it- (The number? Enough to make a cardiologist twitch.) and then- I head into the great dark- abyss of Black Friday.
I’m the one singing carols, smiling, helping other people find their goodies and passing out chocolate like crack.
For years, I did this. Partly for the fun of the communal holiday- kickoff and partly because I wanted to be able to buy gifts I couldn’t really afford. “If I can score it on Black Friday- I can give X- Y gift!”
I wanted to create the perfect holiday.
Problem: Over the years it became less and less fun. It went from excited expectation to nervous anticipation. The truth is-Black Friday created a false reality and false expectations.
I planned ahead to buy things I couldn’t afford without the deals. My holidays and I, became deal dependent.
Even worse: If I couldn’t get the deal- I usually went a head and bought the item after the sale.Whether I could afford it or not. I felt like I’d already committed and would let people down. Self imposed guilt, with a side of appearance management. One Black Friday’s deals- fed into the need to nab the next years- Black Friday deals. The fun dissolved into anxiety. “I have to get X at Y store so that I can give everyone gifts I can’t really afford- and they must be equally valued- so i must get ALL the deals… Or- there will be a Christmas Apocalypse!”
I’m not the only one. Every year I’ve met my compadre’s in bargains and watched all of our attitudes change…forget the holidays and giving and fun…and feeling the lottery win type of feel of scoring a must have item for a great price. It became about entitlement. (“The Ad SAID you’d have it. I’m here. YOU MUST GIVE IT TO ME.” – Funny how we all ignore the “Limited supply” small print. Or maybe we assume it means: “Limited to me- supply.”) Instead of carols and companionship – it’s become -anger and fighting and brawling over barbies. Or whatever the “it” item of the year is.
Then- they started opening stores on Thanksgiving. The one holiday where we just gather and love each other and feed each other and focus on gratefulness without the pressure or expense of “gifting.”
Last year- i refused to shop on Thanksgiving.
This year- I watched my son go to retail work (aka: hell) right after the Thanksgiving dishes were cleared. In order to make sure he had dinner- I started that 25 lb bird at 6 am.
This morning? I quit Black Friday.
I woke up like the well trained consumer that I am. And then- I went back to bed.
I refuse to spend more than I can afford. Even if it IS a deal.
I refuse to waste part of my life standing in line- angsty and cranky and anxious and stressed- as the kick off for my holiday season. I refuse to become that person with greed and frustration written all over my face and heart- again. (Which I was last year. Not good.)
Maybe, it’s a positive side effect of living with my husband’s cancer. But- I’ve learned that life is too short and too precious to spend it on appearance management and forcing my budget to go further than it’s able.
So- I quit. People I love will receive gifts I can afford. I will spend the day taking care of my husband, maybe doing some online shopping and at the eye-doctor.
I might take some time to hit the bookstore this afternoon after all the cranky people go back to bed.
Because It’s NOT BLACK FRIDAY to me. It’s the restful day after Thanksgiving. Because really- I worked all day cooking yesterday…. and rest is what today SHOULD be about.
However- I did have pie for breakfast. Some traditions are just that important. And coffee.
And I’ll still be wearing my fat-pants.
PS: If you’re out there this morning… I wish you well. Seriously. If black friday deals help you get what you need or what your kids dream of- I get it. I’m just bowing out- because it’s not good for ME. I’m a jerk. And black friday makes me even jerkier. Good Luck!