Thanksgiving and Black Friday: Family, Food and an Argument for Shopping

During the rougher parts of this week, Lance kept reminding me of one simple truth: On Thursday, you’ll be at home, enjoying Thanksgiving with your mom. While she might have taught me all her recipes, many come out better when she makes them… Each year, the turkey is juicier, her green bean to bacon ratio is just right… Hell, she even makes her own frosting, which is down right impressive in my world of strictly pre-made icings.

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This year we celebrated in my mother’s perfect-for-harvest-season (it’s orange) home. Lance’s grandmother also joined us, which meant that we had four people with completely inappropriate senses of humor at one dinner table. Conversation was varied, and much more exciting than any huge family gatherings I’ve attended. Small and sarcastic for the win!

After some tidying and a (lengthy, fantastic, first I’ve had in who knows how long) nap, Mom and I layered up, lightened our purses, slipped on some comfortable shoes and headed to the Black Friday madness. Get stoked!

Except here’s the thing: It wasn’t madness. At all. It wasn’t even organized chaos. It was just holiday shopping at a mall during almost-normal mall business hours. We parked spitting distance from the Sears mall entrance, three rows back from the Target door, and right outside Ulta. The longest line we waited in was maybe seven minutes. There was no real wait for snacks and coffee. And many of the sales were rather pathetic. Even the people-watching wasn’t as entertaining.

Now I say this sounding disappointed because the madness is what I enjoyed, both as an employee and a shopper. But the madness (and I’m not talking break the door down and trample your neighbor madness, just the weird and excited energy of shopping instead of sleeping) simply isn’t there when stores open on Thanksgiving at hours they would normally be open. Bring people to a mall at 2 a.m. and it’s unique; hell, I worked at this mall for years, and even on the worst inventory days, I was never there past 1. There’s something crazy and silly about being somewhere at the anti-normal hour, but opening at 6 or 7 or even 10 p.m. isn’t different, it’s just slightly busy shopping.

An obvious solution is to cancel the whole thing, and boy, do I see a lot of those rants. Written to the commercialized turd-burgling consumer (maybe not their words, but close) these posts are everywhere. That’s the glory of the internet, right? Everyone, myself included, can put their opinion out in the world. And so, quick(ish…) and to the point, I give you mine.

*Should you like to skip an argument for Black Friday and continue into uninterrupted sarcasm and shopping, please scroll down.

I like Black Friday a lot. I like the shopping, and during my years of retail, I liked the totally insane day at work. And while it’s a shame when anyone at any job has to work a day they don’t want to, working on holidays is the unfortunate truth of many, many jobs, retail included. Many with jobs in law enforcement, health care, and the trades work holidays, but so do some less expected individuals. Experts are available for much of the day via the ever-helpful Butterball hotline. The news station videographers who record the parades work on a holiday so we may maintain the tradition of keeping Macy’s magic running in the background while we cook. Did you tune into football? Those gigantic stadiums require ticket sellers, traffic coordinators, a janitorial crew, concessions workers and more.

So there are a few things I ask naysayers to remember when making their Black Friday arguments. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, and that’s fine, but please keep in mind that some of us adore holiday pay. We moved holiday celebrations around for years so my mother could work doubles and scoop up triple pay from one drugstore employer, and I’ll take damn near any opportunity to make the standard time-and-a-half. Now once that clock strikes midnight, it’s no longer holiday pay… But it is a crazy, and oddly entertaining, day to work. Each year, I stocked up on caffeine and came in with a more-than-chipper attitude to ride that crazy wave all the way to pay day. Black Friday was, plain and simple, part of the job, and to me, it wasn’t even on the list of worst aspects.

And to those posts I keep running across regarding the horrors of commercialism and how we’ve ruined the Thanksgiving spirit, I say this: Your big family dinner sounds delightful, as does the happy-go-lucky touch football or board games or whatever you find to be best that follow. But we all have different families who like to do different things, and my teeny group has the most fun while doing ridiculous things. Being silly and sarcastic together is our family bonding time, and if you think that sucks we’re here to hand out insults because we’re really good at it from all these years of practice. So before you define what is and is not “spending quality time with family” please remember to add the ever important “in my opinion” phrase.

My Black Friday solution is that we should move the shopping back to actual Friday. The workers who happily came in for the holiday shift, bitched and whined, and all employees in-between can enjoy their Thursday. Miss the real holiday pay? Head to the drugstore, or something else always open. Then we can go back to the traditional early morning discounts, employees can eat dinner and nap, and us shoppers can enjoy the gimmick of crazy a.m. hours at the local shopping center yet again.

*We now return to sarcasm and shopping.

My mother and I started shopping on Black Friday a few years ago; for whatever reason, neither of us were working the sale that year, so we decided to take a peek from the other side. We joke about it like it’s super intense, but we sort of just do regular sale hunting and poke a lot of fun. We don’t normally remember to bring (or even look at) the ads. We don’t have lists. We normally don’t even have major wants. This year, my mother needed a new wireless mouse and I wanted to find Lance’s Christmas and birthday presents. Super intense, I know. This didn’t stop us from treating the entire evening like the movie-quality event we pretend it is.

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This photo is captioned “Put down that wireless mouse…” and should immediately put the theme song  from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in your head.

We both found what we wanted and, more importantly, had our festive hysterical laughter fits while out. For us, looking insane while crying from laughter is simply what the holidays are all about.

Without further ado, I now bring you the Five Best Parts of Black Friday 2013…

  • Feeling inspired by our fake-over enthusiasm, Mom and I kept a constant eye out for M.O.H. (pronounced Moe). Huh? M.O.H. is our acronym for miserable old husbands, and we talk about M.O.H. while we watch men pretend to search for additional sizes (“Hey Mom, did I tell ya I ran into M.O.H.?”) or hold bags and watch television on their phones (“Jules, I saw M.O.H. Jr. just now!”). We could expand the search to all the miserable, drug-to-the-mall anti-shoppers, but the husbands are our personal favorite, and M.O.H. is always a delight in his angst.
  • Excluding a few crazies, everyone I encountered and could hear was super polite. Manners are totally bitchin’!
  • We missed the memo about matching mother-daughter Black Friday t-shirts, which apparently come in varying hues of glitter. Somehow, we’ll survive without.
  • DJs in stores are a terrible idea and should be stopped immediately. The only benefit of the Macy’s disc jockey is that he, a middle-aged man dancing by the escalator, played a soulful and entirely insane song about the hotness of older ladies.
  • While we definitely saw fewer people in pajamas this year,  it is still a constant battle. Shopping at 3 a.m. I can overlook your printed fleece stretch pants, but when you’re heading to a shopping center at 6 p.m. your excuse for not wearing regular pants is invalid, unless of course you have no trousers and are planning on buying some on Black Friday.

I’m off to enjoy some more festive feasts (ahem, the leftovers are intense…) and family weekend time. If you’re looking to kill a few minutes, hit the Black Friday e-sales. A few of my favorites include…

LOFT: 40% off / Tarina Tarantino: 30% off / Karmaloop: 15% off $35, 20% off $75, 25% off $150, 40% off $350 / Aerie and American Eagle: 40% off (50% off deal still happening for members, according to a text message they just sent me…) / Express: 50% off / ASOS: 20% off / The Limited: 50% off / Gap: 50% off / Banana Republic: 40% off / JCPenney: Extra 15% off, starting at 2 p.m. / Kohl’s: Extra 15% off, plus $15 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent

Here’s hoping you had as delightful of a Thanksgiving as I did. Toodles! 

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