It is amazing how much one person’s life can change in a short period of time.
Last year if you had told me that I would be out shopping dark and early on the morning after Thanksgiving, I would have laughed heartily. But, there I was at 5:30 that morning this year, ready to do battle for whatever bargain I decided to buy.
Last year I slept in, trying to recover lost sleep from the day before. I hadn’t had time to look at the ads, and besides, I really didn’t need anything. My husband and I had a late breakfast, looked over the newspaper and watched the television news with all the crazy shoppers lined up waiting for stores to open.
This year I had lots of time Thanksgiving Day. Our son and I got up early and he prepared the big bird while I got the stuffing and the sweet potatoes ready.
Then, for the first time in years, I sat down and read the paper, including all the ads for the next day before anybody else touched them. I even made a list of things that looked interesting.
Did I really plan to go shopping? Of course not. It’s been a rough year, but I am not totally crazy yet. I did take the ads along with the turkey and sweet potatoes, out to my daughter’s house where our family shared a carry-in Thanksgiving dinner.
After dinner the girls studied the ads and laid out their strategy for picking up the bargains they just had to have. They divide the chores among the available shoppers, which now includes some husbands and granddaughters.
Some take the toy department, others do electronics, or housewares, or whatever department is offering bargains they want and pick up whatever they and others want in that department.
In almost no time at all they contact each other by cell phone, check out, and move on to the next store. Cell phones have definitely made the day after Thanksgiving shopping easier to organize.
When they agree, again via cell phone, that they have finished shopping they meet for breakfast, trade the bargains they bought for each other, and in no time at all they figure who owes whom how much. It’s amazing how they kept this math ability hidden during their school years.
I declined to go along with them this year, but I was wide awake at 5 a.m. Black Friday morning, as the newspapers called it. I had planned to go out of town to pick up a few things, but then realized they were available locally. So I went out north all by myself, found what I wanted, and ran into one of my own, so I agreed to do breakfast with them.
At breakfast I realized they were worried about “the old lady” traveling to neighboring cities alone on a day that could be violent. I think they suggested to the oldest granddaughter that she should take Grandma for further shopping. I agreed, reluctantly. After all, one must protect one’s independence. When we got into thick fog on US 36 I was glad she was driving.
Actually she ended up doing more shopping than I did. The first big box store we entered was really crowded. We parted company and agreed to meet by the cash registers in 45 minutes.
When we met, we checked out almost immediately. They had cash registers clear across the front of the store, and every one of them was open. There was no waiting, no pushing, or shoving, and everybody, including the cashiers, seemed fairly jolly.
On to the next store which was also crowded. Again we split up and I headed to the “home” department where it took me awhile to pick out a very bulky item which I then had to lug through the store because there were no carts available.
I went to check out and discovered the lines at the registers went clear to the back of the store and wrapped around. I parked my few items, went back up front, sat on a bench, and chatted with other senior citizens who agreed that nothing was worth standing in line for that long.
Granted the line was not shoulder to shoulder, because each person had piles of presents they were patiently shoving on the floor ahead of them. But the most amazing thing was that most of the shoppers were chatting with others in line and helping each other shove of purchases ahead.
During the five hours I was out there on the battlefield of “After Thanksgiving Sales,“ I saw no violence anywhere. It looked to me like just about everybody was having a pretty good time. I know I did. I might even join the party eagerly next year.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Nov. 29, 2006.