Posted in Black Friday, Shopping, Thanksgiving

Bye Bye, Black Friday. I Gotta Check Out.

the-mother-christmas

I prepped for this day like one does for a special dinner stuffed with turkey, gravy, and pumpkin pie.  I doubled up on workouts the fall months in advance, so I could climb shelves, stretch for treasures, sprint to the “while supplies last” aisles, and push three full shopping carts to the checkout using two hands and one foot while hopping on the other.   

Black Friday shopping wasn’t something I loved doing, but I was good at it.  Prior to becoming an online shopper, I studied the newspaper ads as if cramming for an important test like the S.A.T. (Shop-A-Thon). I could get Walmart to price match and home deliver a live llama if I really wanted one, and believe me, I came close. I knew which stores opened when and what sugarplum bait each could hook me with.

I proudly came home with the cheapest gaming systems, feet pajamas for all, complete Dora the Explorer paraphernalia, the rarest Zhu Zhu Pets (toy hamsters that NEVER stop squeaking), and other “needed” treasures.  I kept my shopping game pretty clean and never got into pillow fights, electronic executions, or Barbie Doll battles.  

I am embarrassed to admit that I did get caught up in the materialistic mentality of the BF event though, especially a few years ago when my mother was visiting.  She spent Thanksgiving and the weekend with my family and agreed to Black Friday shop with me.  She’s in her golden years and had her knees replaced, so her shopping speed rolled back like the prices at the local Walmart we’d go to. My mother still had the spunk and energy to join me, and we left the house at 4:00 a.m.  My husband and little girls stayed put in their cozy beds.   

In the hectic and dark Walmart parking lot, my mother secured a hard-to-find shopping cart.  Once inside, it was hard to move freely among the swarms of people that I just had to be a part of.  After I checked to see my mother had her flip phone with her, I told her I’d be back in a flash and buzzed away.  I just bolted, leaving her there with her precious, coveted cart.  

After loading my arms with enough bath towels to open a spa, I returned to my mother and unloaded my laundry in her cart which I really needed for this shopping trip.  I asked her if I could borrow it, and before she could answer, I just took it.  Yep, I stole my mother’s cart, her four-wheeled cane so that I could continue packing it with wrapping paper, small appliances, and knock off Tupperware. Geez oh man!  What was I thinking?

Before I got to the toy department, I knew I should check on her.  I abandoned her in an unfamiliar store during the craziest shopping day in America.  I found her near the entrance in the foot bath, waterpik, and pamper-yourself section. I returned her cart to her (filled with more super important stuff I mindlessly yanked off the shelves) and took off AGAIN.  

I just couldn’t stay put.  The zing, zeal, and zip of the crowd was hypnotic and entranced me.  I would have boarded an alien ship if someone told me there was a rollback deal on interplanetary travel.  And yes, I bet I would have left my mother with her cart if she couldn’t catch up.  I’m so ashamed.  

I needed to own those sales though, and fast.  My husband had to leave for work at 7:00 a.m., and I had to get back to our kids. I had less than three hours to shop like a fool, regain sanity, and return home with my mother safely belted in the passenger seat of our minivan.  Pressure was on to scurry, hurdle, and sing Fa La La while doing so.

I rushed to the toys where I was afraid of missing some sort of magic, like dancing elves passing out mimosas and fast-passes to cut in lines. What a Milton Bradley Mob! I didn’t know where to even begin.  (FYI – There were no spirited elves, but I saw a tiny old man take a slow, heavy swig from a flask he returned to his flannel pocket.)

I wanted to be in aisle eight, the infamous doll aisle, but both sides were barricaded with customers.  To distract the doll mongers, I purposefully tossed some coins into aisle eight and when my change klinked to the floor, the shoppers momentarily stopped grabbing things just as I hoped.  While they looked above for the sky to rain with more money, I slinked in like a cat, stage left.  I know, I cheated my way into aisle eight, but I must’ve lost my better judgment in the parking lot.  

I squealed, “BOGO on dolls!”  I couldn’t even contain my excitement and grabbed a bunch of Polly Pockets, every inner tube lipped Bratz Doll I could reach, and some baby dolls that would pee out water.  How fun it would be for the girls to change fake diapers!  I stuffed my coat and purse like a shoplifter until I nearly burst. I started to sweat with doll fever, and my claustrophobia clobbered me with a sucker punch.  I was stuck between four shopping carts like the monkey in the middle. My breaths stuttered and my heart thumped against all those ghoulish Bratz Dolls.  

Finally, the carts pulled out and I escaped. Phew!  I shook my head and took a breather.  I saw the old guy take another flask nip as he walked away with the blue hair who blocked my exit.  I heard him slur, “What took you so long?!”   

Then I nearly tripped over a wagon in the middle of my path.  Perfect! I emptied my coat and purse and filled the wagon with the rest of my deals. I shopped around a bit more and threw in a panda bear neck massager for my mother (I’m not that bad of a daughter.)  My wagon overflowed, and I had little strength left to maneuver it.  It was time to greenlight, GO!

I called my mother and met up with her in the grocery side of the store.  We checked out, and beyond the stuff I put in her cart, the cashier scanned bananas, Lorna Doone cookies, and a box of Life Cereal.  My mother bought three grocery items in three hours on Black Friday!  

I ended up with a bunch of senseless purchases including the wagon. We already had two in our garage, but there was such a good deal on this one.  My poor mother rode with a wagon handle wedged next to her ear.  

When we got home, my girls were still asleep.  My mother ate her cereal with a banana while I stole a quick catnap.  My children woke me up within an hour, and I was useless.  I spent all my energy and money at the biggest monopoly, and now I was depleted, out of reserves, tapped out, broke.  

My peppy mother wanted to be with the girls, so she fed them Life and colored and played cards with them while I caught a few more hours of rest. I’m so thankful my mother waited for me while I left her and abandoned myself in a shopping frenzy. I chugged the Black Friday Kool-Aid and followed the material obsessed masses. Later, I had buyer’s remorse, but my mother claimed she had a good time window shopping and people watching.  

That was the last time I participated in Black Friday.  Recently, my daughters (now teens) nearly convinced me to take them Black Fridaying.  I considered it but then remembered how wickedly weird I got that final time.  Instead, I came up with a better plan to take them  *White Wednesday shopping, when pure retail wishes come true.  

Wishing you the best holiday season.  In the end, the shopping and accumulation of stuff is not what is important.  It’s having someone to give to and share with. God bless us, Everyone!  

*ROGO — Read One, Get One — Click on “I’m Dreaming of a White Wednesday” to learn more about this delightful retail holiday.

Posted in Black Friday, Christmas Season, Shopping, Thanksgiving

I’m Dreaming of a White Wednesday (With Every Christmas Gift I Buy)

img_0235

Whoa!  There certainly are a lot of retail events that keep materializing for the Christmas season shopper. The biggest ones I’m aware of are Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving), Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving), and Green Monday (a couple Mondays before Christmas).  Of these three, Black Friday is the one that draws hordes of customers into actual stores.  The others are online shopping days which are perfect for me, a revolutionized .com-customer.  

I used to thrive on “brick and mortar shopping” where I had to touch, see, and even smell everything on display.  Pixels weren’t included, and minimum storage merely referred to my overflowing closet.  My friend Heather and I were partners in bargain hunting and hit malls, shopping centers, and outlets to use our marathon purchase prowess about once a month.  

Due to the convenience of online shopping, I’ve evolved into a laptop shopper. I still like to occasionally venture into real stores with Heather and my daughters though (They’re currently ages 12 and 14.)  Doing so, I discovered a shopping spree window of time for which I will annually save the date.  I call it White Wednesday, and it outshines Black Friday. White Wednesday is to be observed on Thanksgiving Eve.  

Before I share the clean and bright beauty of White Wednesday, I wish to disclose that I was and still am an expert Christmas shopper. I understand the value of and excitement of *Black Friday and admit to partaking of it in the past.  

This year my daughters wanted me to take them Black Friday shopping.  Initially, I said yes and thought we could make a retail adventure of it.  We would get up about twelve minutes after falling asleep. We’d travel just over thirty miles north to Erie where we could hunt for sales at the Millcreek Mall and neighboring stores.  

We would stand in long lines, battle crowds and traffic, and lose sleep to fill up our bags and carts, but we would do it together.  Our arms might burn with muscle spasms, but we would power through with adrenalin, strength, and gift-giving and girl power. We would save money and get free stuff for being early birds. We’d refuel on free hors d’oeuvres at Hickory Farms and toothpicks topped with China Max then blast ourselves with sugar and caffeine from Starbucks (straws and napkins free).

While bonding with my girls, I would train them to become a part of something big, a special community of shoppers around the USA.  We would contribute to the economy and have a blast doing so.  

And then the wine wore off and I woke up…

That morning, I lit a harvest pumpkin candle and relaxed in my cozy slippers and comfy chair.  While sipping pumpkin coffee with pumpkin flavored creamer (yes, I’m a pumpkin junkie), I made a big fat pumpkin pie plan to boycott Black Friday, FOREVER!

When I broke the news to the girls, they were relentless.  “But, Mom! You promised, and it’ll be so much fun!”

“Believe me, it won’t be fun.  It will be very stressful,” I claimed.  

“You are the best shopper, Mom.  We want you to teach us.”  Oh, how they know I love to be flattered for my teaching skills and best-buy-radar.   When it comes to couponing talents, I have no modesty.  

“Girls, I really don’t want nor need to go Black Fridaying ever again.  It’s too exhausting and insane for me at this stage.”

*ROGO — Read One, Get One!  Today you get two blogs in one sitting.  Check out (shopping pun intended) “Bye Bye, Black Friday” for more store lore.   

 

“Besides there is a much better materialistic holiday, White Wednesday.”  

“Oh yeah?  Why haven’t we ever heard about it?” asked shopping minion #1.  

“You’re making this up,” accused shopping minion #2.  

“Trust me.  I merely made up the name, White Wednesday, but not the concept which is  a day when pure retail wishes come true.”

“Nobody shops on White Wednesday!”

“Somebody does, or the stores wouldn’t be open.  The point is that nearly nobody will be out and about because they’re waiting for Black Friday or prepping for Thanksgiving.  Since we don’t have to do either, you can accompany me and be White Wednesday Angels.”  My darling cherubs eye-rolled then conceded to go after with me after school Wednesday, especially since that was their only option for brick and mortar Christmas shopping.  The rest would happen online.  

I hoped it would be like last year, when, after my appointment in Erie the day before Thanksgiving, I went to the Millcreek Mall.  I wanted hand soaps and candles but witnessed the unveiling of Black Friday products and prices and bought a lot more.  The mall was beautifully decorated for the upcoming Christmas season, but it was as quiet as a snowglobe. I felt like I had the place to myself.  Every store I went to started their BF sales, so I banked in on early-early bird bargains, but better.  There were no lines, crowds, competitions, traffic, or sleep deprivation.  

This year it was great, and even better than I could have imagined.  The girls and I arrived at the mall at 5:00 p.m. (not a.m.)  We had no trouble finding rock star parking on this chilly eve.  When we entered the mall you could hear the buzz of the fluorescent lights.  The entrance was only busy with signs, slogans, and sale prices, not sounds and customers.   The silence whispered that it was going to be a good shopping trip.  

Each store we went to was prepping for their Black Friday deals.  Employees had mere hours to set us their store kiosks, displays, and signs for anticipated customers.  Since the mall was thankfully closed on Thanksgiving, they had to get ready on Thanksgiving Eve.  

Whatever was going to be offered in 36 hours was offered then and there.  No mall retailers held out on giving me a freebie or discount I would have scored later.  If held up a few minutes longer while the seasonal Christmas help was being trained,  I would be rewarded with future coupons for my patience.  These should not have hit my hands until BF, but, honestly, these store managers and workers aimed to please.  

My girls and I ended up with an abundance of toothpick snacks from Hickory Farms and China Max. At Starbucks, we only waited behind one cute couple named Doug and Dina.  After all that, we shared an order of pretzel sticks and a lemonade.  Life was lovely.   

We shopped hard and turned the mall inside out. Even though we acquired so many deals there, the girls wanted one more store.  One more store?  It was nearly 10:00 p.m., and we had a 40 minute drive home.  

Those girls convinced me that we couldn’t end it yet, so we went to Target.  That was the one place that wouldn’t start BF deals on WW (White Wednesday, remember?)  At least I had a $10 off of any purchase coupon. We left with a free giant box of Xtra Cheddar Flavor Blasted Goldfish Crackers and two packs of Juicy Fruit.

We made it home just minutes before my pumpkin spice latte wore off and the clock chimed for Thanksgiving.  We carried all our purchases inside and said goodnight to each other and our wonderfully productive and serene White Wednesday.  We were thankful for the day together.  

This was a day when pure retail wishes indeed came true. Mark your calendars for the next White Wednesday on November 22, 2017.  

Have a Christmas season you dreamed of.  

img_0234

 

 

 

Posted in Dogs, Happiness, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Dinner and Fried Chicken

img_0261

We are thankful for these two furry friends. Because of their coloring, our daughter Cara nicknamed Louie (the sheltie) “Thanksgiving Dinner” and Italia (the golden) “Fried Chicken.”

img_0258

After my husband let the dogs out on such a brisk, rainy Thanksgiving morning, Italia ran back into our bedroom and jumped right into our bed. This was a big deal, because of her aging body, she hasn’t been able to get into the bed unassisted for months.

I cuddled with her for an extra spell of time. She would have stayed there forever to be pet and loved. Louie, on the other hand, Mr. Thanksgiving Dinner himself, whined for us to get out of bed, so I could continue fattening him up. He basically sees me as the hand that feeds him. It’s all balances out with the unconditional love from Italia.

I’m so thankful toimg_0249 have started out our holiday with extra snuggles.

Hope you had your own special Thanksgiving Dinner (or Fried Chicken).