It started innocently a few Thanksgivings ago. Trapped on my mother’s couch by a sleeping baby and a full tummy, I was looking for something to do while my extended family bonded.
Some yelled at the football game on TV, some dozed off as they digested another successful turkey dinner—and I picked up the newspaper. Similar to the turkey we had just consumed, it was stuffed. A good pound of fliers spilled into my lap.
Oh yes, the problem with consumerism and its subsequent implications for societal and individual sin and the black marks it’s all leaving on my soul crossed my mind. But after I looked past the pages and pages of toys my kids would destroy in one evening, I saw it: the electronics section!
Spending the holiday in my small hometown, there was only one box store Black Friday option for me. And, lo and behold, I was holding their electronics flier. There they were, laptop computers and GPS systems, two items at the very top of not only our Christmas list, but our needs list.
And so I tucked my babes into bed Thanksgiving night and headed out to the big box store at midnight. Thankfully, the store was open 24 hours a day, a perk when waiting in line at midnight on a cold November night in Wisconsin.
Each section of the store and their Black Friday deals were labeled on the maps employees were handing out. Accompanying each map was a free sample of an energy boosting beverage, not a wise choice on the part of the proprietor in my opinion, but appreciated by some of my fellow GPS deal-seekers.
The line forming behind the shrink-wrapped pallets of deals may as well have been my high school reunion. At midnight, an employee pulled out a pocket knife, cut the shrink wrap off the pallet they were assigned and walked away. Sure, there was grabbing and some inconsiderate steering of shopping carts, but nothing compared to the horror stories I had read about and seen on TV. It was no place for a claustrophobic person such as me, but I had been lost one too many times with a baby in the backseat as I tried to navigate a new city. I felt strongly about our need for GPS.
Last year I sat on the same couch in my small hometown and read through the fliers atop my eight-month-pregnant belly. My husband, who is anti-shopping no matter the day of the year, made it clear that I was not going Black Friday shopping at midnight, alone and eight-months-pregnant.
I then shared with him the items I was considering purchasing – and their prices. They were items we had recently discussed as needs and wants in our home. The difference in price found him behind the wheel of our minivan at midnight, driving his Black Friday-loving wife to the biggest sale of the year. He even created a game-plan: “divide and conquer.”
And so our daughters now have a purple bike to ride, this directionally challenged mother has a GPS, and my husband has a better understanding of why I pore over the grocery store flier each Sunday evening.
Do we push and holler and trample our way to a deal? Certainly not! Do we compromise time with our family to shop? No, my children are always sleeping. In fact, last year’s Black Friday experience was bonding for my husband and I, who felt like teammates on a mission.
We’re raising a large family and although our income ebbs, flows, and grows each year, I will always be mindful and prudent with our resources. This is the type of shopper I am every other day of the year, and the shopper I will be one Friday each November.
I stand in line twice annually for our grocery store’s meat sale and I will stand in line at midnight one day out of the year to get the best price on items our family needs – and maybe there’ll be a few wants thrown in as well. A penny saved is a penny earned, no matter the date on the calendar.
Question for you: Do you have strong feelings about Black Friday? Share them in the comments!
Copyright 2013 Holly Rutchik