Every year after Thanksgiving the women in my family engage in a cherished, sacred, time-honored tradition which I hope to one day pass down to my daughters: we brave the crowds and Shop the Sale on Black Friday. Oh, ho, ho... yes, we do. But... this year I was over 2000 miles away from my family and I actually worked on Black Friday. Worked! On the best shopping day of the year! Quelle horreur! And at five o'clock in the morning as I passed one of our fabulous malls on my way to work, and I saw the multitude of cars slowly making their way into the massive parking garages, and felt the excitement, and heard on the radio that several hundred diehard shoppers had been lined up in the 20 degree weather outside of Target since before four o'clock (and nearly broke down the door when the store opened at five), well, I missed my momma, and my aunts, and my sisters, and my cousins more than I ever thought possible. Because our family Shop the Sale Extravaganza? Is an art form.
Honestly, this is a serious endeavor and most definitely not for the faint-of-heart. I am so not kidding here. Conflict is a given. There will be grabbing and verbal confrontations and "inadvertent" pushing. And sometimes? Sometimes?! Actual shoving comes into play! Violent shoving! With name-calling and maternal expletives involved! It's not pretty, y'all.
Additionally, this outing can take literally hours, sometimes even days of planning to coordinate. But never let it be said that the women in my family cannot plan. Oh, we can plan with the best of them! We are plan-making fiends! We should get honorary degrees in planning, as a matter of fact, we plan so well! We = Master Planners! I'm just saying.
So, while our significant others lay sprawled out on the living room couches "watching" football games in L-tryptophan-induced turkey comas, we women gather around the dining room table and begin the rigorous process of strategizing our attack on the retail industry in the greater Phoenix area.
Phase 1: The most important task is of course the acquisition of several Thanksgiving Day newspapers which are a veritable gold mine of colorful ads and "One Day ONLY!" sale flyers. It is critical that we come to Thanksgiving dinner armed with a comprehensive list of gift ideas and giftees. If we are really on the ball, we have already itemized and estimated the total projected cost of our purchases which, it is to be hoped, fall well within our budgeted Christmas spending money.
This phase is always a good time to reflect over the material blessings we have enjoyed this year as we balance our checkbooks. Flinging the checkbook across the room? Sporadic crying? Stomping and raging against The Man and the Spirit of Pagan Commercial Greed ? Totally allowed.
Phase 2: We pore over the piles of store ads and sort them into categories: toys, electronics, home decor, jewelry, tools, and miscellaneous. This is where the multiple issues of the newspaper come into play. No more haggling with Mom over the last Kohl's coupon promising "25% OFF all merchandise!" (except on jewelry, appliances, scarves and earmuffs, children's games, clearance items, select clothing, and anything in the Home Center). Coupons for all!
Then we map out an itinerary of stores we want to hit, and in what order we shall proceed. A good Divide and Conquer strategy is key. Sticking together is many a Black Friday shopper's downfall. Hello?! This is not about togetherness! How can you snag four Barbies and a half-priced Magna Doodle in the toy aisle if you are stuck in the jewelry department scrounging for the last two silver lockets?! Huh?! Answer me that! I mean, honestly. These gifts aren't going to get themselves, you know what I'm saying?
I should note that, as this planning phase can last hours, a ready supply of desserts and beverages is a must.
Phase 3: We sit around eating, and drinking, and laughing, and talking about how we are TOTALLY going to hit the sack early because we don't want to be exhausted tomorrow as we have to get up before the crack of dawn, and then we eat more dessert and drink more soda and laugh even more loudly and talk a whole bunch more until we realize it is midnight, at which time we commence running around the house frantically setting three alarms and synchronizing our watches so we can be sure to wake up, stumble out of bed, and meet at Grandma's house at precisely four o'clock. In the a.m. When it is still dark and sometimes downright chilly outside and most people are still sleeping. Um, because we are insane, apparently? (Grandma, however, has outgrown the madness and simply sends a list with my mom. Then she goes back to bed. I know, right? GOSH! Deserter.)
Phase 4: Woo! Now here is where the real fun begins! Armed with coupons, lists, credit cards, and Dunkin' Donuts hot chocolate, we head over to the first store on our list. If the line is more than four blocks long, or winds tighter than the line at Disneyland's Space Mountain on New Year's Eve, we have the prerogative to scratch that store and sprint over to the next store on the list.
Please note: We usually place the stores with the best free door gifts at the top of the list, as we can walk in, grab our free gift, and rush off to the next store, grab THAT free gift, and so on and so forth until we have exhausted all the free-gift-giving stores on our list. Over the years, this strategy has garnered for me a Bobble-Head Frosty the Snowman, assorted stuffed animals, several MatchBox race cars, and one slightly cracked Mickey Mouse snowglobe ornament. All free. Given away right there at the door. Gifts for free. Which I could freely take and own for free. Gifts for which I paid no money. Free gifts. Say it with me now, people: SCORE! (Wait. Why did y'all yell "FREE!"? Weird.)
Then, after racing to the parking lot and dropping our free gifts at the car, we rush back to the stores and proceed with our shopping. Some stores have time limits on their sales, so we sally forth first to those whose sales end earliest. Over the years I have perfected my look of Oops, Did I Accidentally Push You Out Of The Way To Grab The Very Last Bratz Doll (or what have you) Because Some Idiot Totally Shoved Me From Behind?, which is-- if I do say so myself-- convincing and highly effective. Especially when my mom actually DOES give me a good hard shove from behind while hissing, "Get it! Get it! There's only one more DVD player left! GET! IT!" and I'm all, "Mom! Stop pushing me! GOSH!" Luckily my youthful demeanor and deceptively innocent babyface deter grown women from bitch-slapping me when I slip under their arms and loot the clearance bins. Who is going to risk punching a cute little teenager, right? Eh? Eh?! HA! Suckers!
And because I am small and scrappy, my mom and the aunts have perfected their trademark Shopping Lineman Blocking Stance, leaving me wide open to make the mad dash down the aisle to grab five of the $20 down throw comforters (marked down from $45!) and sprint away before anyone can tackle me. And let me just say, when my momma and her sisters are blocking your path, you better think twice before trying to Red Rover your way through, I tell you what.
I remember one year when we were after the popcorn tins (only $11.99!), things got a little tricky, but with a little ingenuity and loads of determination I was able to balance four of those suckers in two hands and stagger triumphantly to the checkout register. And I won't even tell you how I managed to make it out of the frenzied, cutthroat crowd with six $20 CD players on my person. Good times, those. Good times.
Phase 5: We are usually ready to call it a day at around six or seven o'clock in the evening, so we head home where we corner and subject our husbands to an exhaustive cataloging of the many bargains we purchased while they pretend to be interested. Then-- of course-- we eat, and we drink, and we laugh, and we talk about the scandalous amounts of money we saved and our near-brushes with assault and battery, as well as commend each other on our overall shopping savvy.
Thing is, since I missed the annual Shop the Sale Extravaganza, my holiday season feels empty now. The magic of the season? Totally eluding me. I just sit all alone at my computer buying presents online, all anonymous and impersonal-like. Where's the fun in that, huh?! Where's the excitement? The deals? The drama?! WHERE ARE THE FREAKING FREE GIFTS?!
You know what? Internet shopping has killed the glee, y'all. Killed it DEAD.
I even went to Target last Saturday at peak shopping hours and jostled a few people in the toy aisle, but it was just not the same. Not the same at ALL.
That being said, I am SO going home for Thanksgiving next year. I mean it. I have already saved a third of the money we need for plane tickets, and have almost completed a comprehensive cost analysis studying the pros and cons of checking extremely heavy present-laden suitcases for the flight home versus simply shipping presents back to my house via UPS. It's a toss up at this point.
Nevertheless, next year? I will be Shopping the Sale on Black Friday with my momma, et al. Oh, ho, ho... yes I will. And my Christmas spirit will be restored and we shall call our labors good and all will be right with the world.
- LadyBug commented:
This? THIS? I why I TOTALLY LOVE YOU.
- » 12/13/2005 8:44 AM
- kalki commented:
Yeah, what LadyBug said. You rock. And also? I wanna come!! I got swag-snagging skillz!
- » 12/13/2005 11:03 AM
- mrtl commented:
I'm with LadyBug.
- » 12/14/2005 10:54 PM