I admit that I once was a Black Friday shopper. I never knocked anyone over or got in a fist fight over the last Blu-ray player, but I strategically planned my shopping to score items on my Christmas list. I stood in line for an hour to save a few dollars. I set the alarm clock for an obnoxious 3 a.m. to make sure I was one of the first 100 shoppers at J.C. Penney’s to get a snow globe. I’m not ashamed to admit any of that.
I shopped with my parents, and we were a team. A well-oiled machine. Everyone knew their role and executed it to perfection. The Cowboys should be so lucky.
But I haven’t hit a Black Friday sale in two years, and I won’t be going out this year, either. Without the camaraderie and technical support of my parents, I’m just not into it anymore. My older daughters like to shop, to be sure, but not at o’dark thirty. Wimps.
Beyond the lack of a support team, I’m also not into spending every last penny I can scrape together or charge to buy a bunch of stuff we don’t need or can’t afford. I like shopping and gift-giving and gift-receiving as much as the next person. But I’ve redefined what need and gifts are meant to be. Gifts are not meant to fill an emotional void or make me look good. They are meant to be a blessing. Another figurine to dust or a shirt to never wear is not a blessing.
I like saving money on things I plan to buy. I really like saving money. But I don’t know that Black Friday offers those kind of savings. It’s no secret that retailers covet the shopping frenzy sparked by a few sales. Lure people in with $20 laptops (quantities limited), and they’ll buy the $300 tablets when the five laptops on sale are gone. A bit of a bait-and-switch setup. Totally legal. Totally sneaky.
There’s more truth than sarcasm in the saying, “Only in American will people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.”
We have recently refocused on our true needs. Part of it is by choice. Part of it is by force. We need a vehicle that is gas friendly. We would like a vehicle we can all fit in. The two are exact opposites, so we choose the gas efficient car first. We won’t be finding that on any Black Friday circular. And just because a 42″ HDTV is on sale for a great price doesn’t mean we should go buy it. We can’t drive a TV.
And therein lies the main problem of Black Friday. People run to spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need. All in the name of saving money. Say what?
Now, I’m not calling Black Friday evil. If you’ve been saving and find an item at the target price you can afford, then knock yourself out, but not someone else. And if it’s sold out when you get there (no rain checks on Black Friday), then don’t blow the money on something else. Restraint. A wonderful character quality that’s in short supply these days.
I honestly don’t have much of a Christmas list this year. We’ve had a lot of changes. A lot of challenges. A lot of redefining.
We’re going simple. A few clothes to fill in the growing kids closet syndrome. A few tools to help around the house and outside. Some fun time together making memories. Can’t buy that at the store, anyway.
What are your plans for Thanksgiving weekend? Shopping or relaxing?