I feel like I should share with all of you the most exciting bits of this very American holiday tradition. I use the word tradition very loosely here as my family has in no way ever made a tradition of shopping on the morning after Thanksgiving. My brother took up the habit a couple of years ago so that he could stock up on presents for my niece but he's one of those crazy dads who would do anything for his child, and to save a few bucks, so I suppose it makes sense. Me, I'm just your average selfish twenty-something who saw an ad for a $20 DVD player and thought that it would look perfect in my bedroom. So I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. to hit up a few of the stores at the new shopping center here in town. My mother, ever the trooper and often times the Robin in my Batman schemes, came along for the ride.
And a ride it was.
Let me tell you, if you have never braved the wilds of overly-stressed and caffeinated moms at five in the morning searching for the Leap Frog Reading Tablet at 60% off, then you have never seen the true grit of parenthood. The night before, when we decided to really take our chances at the shopping, mom and I skimmed through a few websites and wrote down a few ideas that would be nice to buy as presents for family. I haphazardly wrote the items down on the backside of my credit card bill envelope and tucked it into my bag. When we drove up to the shopping center at roughly 4:58 the next morning I was in shock. The ENTIRE parking lot was full of cars and there were mobs of people outside of every store. In the distance I could hear a guy on a bullhorn organizing shoppers into lines at the Best Buy next to the Kohl's we were attempting to get to. When the doors swung open the crowds swarmed in and then there was the chaos. My mom ran to the kitchen section to swipe up the gift for my brother and sister-in-law while I ran to the toy section to get the gift for my niece. People were shouting out directions to family members and the swarm of bodies around the electronics, my DVD player waiting to be snatched, was large and loud and knocking boxes onto the head of a woman in a wheel chair who had positioned herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the dust cleared I was able to grab the very last DVD player in the store to claim as my own and mom and I were ready to check out. It was 5:15.
We waited in a very long check-out line and then hunted down the car in the parking lot. Mom puffed on a cigarette as I watched people rush out of the store just as quickly as they had rushed in. I don't think there is any need to tell you how the rest of the morning went. Suffice it to say we did hit up another store where pretty much the same scenario unfolded. We were home and unpacking the car as the sun was rising in the distance. I had some breakfast and went back to bed for a few hours.
And as ashamed as I should be to admit it. There is a definite thrill to the whole thing. And a skill of which it would take me many a year to master. I'm not making any promises but there's always next year...