Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Arugment FOR Black Friday... and even shopping on Thanksgiving

Alright, I've seen many people post articles about how Thanksgiving shopping is horrible for several reasons. From what I've read, the main arguments seem to be that it takes away from family time and being thankful for what you have and a few throw in that it really sucks for the people who have to work.

Here's the thing: I agree that for some people it's  all of those things- but as with most anything, I really believe it has a lot more to do with how you go about it.

For me, shopping on Thanksgiving Day is as old of a tradition as watching the Cowboys and having seconds on dessert. I can remember going to Kmart on Thanksgiving after lunch for about as long as I can remember. Whether we were at home, or we went to visit family it's just something I've always done. I don't go for anything in particular, it's just something the women in my family always did to get out of the house and walk off a little of what we ate. I think most years my mom ended up buying me new pajamas for the season since they always seem to run those on sale. The point is, going shopping wasn't taking away from our family time- it was CONTRIBUTING to it. It had nothing to do with consumerism or being ungrateful for what we had. It was just something to do, and we made memories out of it.

Black Friday is something special for my mom and me. We always spent the afternoon on Thanksgiving looking through ads and making a "game plan." It was usually elaborate with several stores, a schedule, list, and some color coding. Sure, we were out buying things for Christmas, but we were doing it with our family and friends in mind. We knew we could buy things later, but going to bed dressed and waking up in the middle of the night to go shiver in front of a store waiting for the doors to open came with a little magic. I don't remember many of the things we bought over the years- but I remember standing in line with my mom. I remember laughing and getting along even during the rough years when we didn't always get along. I remember being exhausted and sitting at IHOP with mom when we finished and having breakfast together. We have so many stories from the years that we spent shopping on the day after thanksgiving.

Personally, I am glad that stores have moved away from the 3am openings and instead opted for opening in the evening on Thanksgiving instead. It means that I can eat lunch, watch the Cowboys, sit around and talk with family, and then go to a few stores and come home to sleep before going back out the next morning. I always hated the zombie headache from not sleeping.

I don't think shopping around Thanksgiving has ever been about the "stuff" for us. It's always been about the tradition and memories. Sure, being able to afford slightly better gifts for friends and family was a nice plus, but it was never really about that. It's about the time we stood in line outside toys r us freezing off our bums and noticed one of our pastors in line just a few spaces away from us buying things for grandkids. Its about the year that target greeted all of their earlybird guests with coffee, cocoa and let shoppers in early because it was so cold . It's about the conversations we had while standing in line. It's about the people you meet in line and the sense of community we felt with those closest to us in line. For every person out shopping who is just there for the stuff, there are two other people who are there for the tradition- I know. I've met those people every year. For people like me, once a year, shopping isn't about the stuff- it's about all the people in the store whose story I learn. For all of the bad things I've seen, I've still seen so much more kindness on Black Friday in stores than any other day. The news doesn't ever show the guy at the front who passes something to a pregnant woman or the lady who passes her extra coupons out to other people in line. I have had so many strangers look out for me and lend a hand on Black Friday. For all those who watch the news and lose faith in humanity, I challenge you to go out and see if there isn't more to the story than just what you see on the news.

As far as the people who have to work go- I'm sorry. I know it stinks. Although in all fairness, you knew when you applied for the job that there was a really high possibility you might be working during part of the thanksgiving holiday. That's just part of retail. Most stores aren't opening on Thanksgiving until later in the day- so if you're like my family and have the big meal for lunch, you aren't missing out on the whole thing. If you work for Kmart- well, what can I say? They've opened early on Thanksgiving Day for as long as I can remember so anyone working there should have known.

These days the tradition has changed so that instead of making memories with my mom, I'm making memories with my husband. I hope someday that I will get to include Violet and make memories with her that she too will cherish for years to come.

So there you have it. Shopping doesn't have to be evil or take away from family time or fuel consumerism. It can just be about the experience. I'm probably replacing some tupperware and spending birthday money this year. I'm sure I'll make some great memories and maybe even meet some new people along the way.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I should rename my kid awesome

I'm constantly blown away by the things I learn from Violet. She is so small and innocent and has no idea how her little actions and my vain attempts to provide for her have opened up my eyes to so many things about myself and the world. Some days, her revelations are world shattering for me. Other days, they are awesome in a whole different way.

Today we took her to the library for story time. It was our first time to ever take her and during the time, they sang a song that pretty much sums up my philosophy in regards to education in such a simple and happy way. I burst out in gleeful laughter (I was practically giddy inside) when I heard this song:

The more we read together, together, together
The more we read together, the happier we'll be
Cause books make you smarter
And smarter kids go farther
The more we read together, the happier we'll be

It's like the book nerd's theme song. Perfection.

She has pushed me to see that I can do things I didn't think I could. Not just mommy things like changing diapers that make me want to puke and putting up with screaming and crying that seems endless at times without ever once losing my cool, but bigger things. She pushed me to believe that I can be creative. She made me find my silly. She challenges me to be all of the things I never thought I could be but always hoped I might. She makes me awesome.