Just got back from our whirlwind annual trip. We stay in a different home each night, which means a lot of driving and schlepping in and out with luggage, sleeping bags, and what-not, but it’s all worth it. The family time with relatives is precious, and I am so grateful for it. We played Charades, ate ourselves silly, looked at old photo albums, saw our first snow of the year, and drove halfway around tarnation.
Coming home is a pain. The stuff we take out of the car quickly overwhelms the kitchen and the hallway and is enough to drive me either to distraction or to drink. One of my favorite things to do when I get home from a trip, once I’ve put in the first load of laundry and managed to dig out a place to sit down, is to look over the newspapers that arrived while we were gone.
I am able to pick through and make a nice little stack of my favorite sections only. Everything else goes straight to the recycle bin. It feels decadent to have four days of unread Style sections or Local News to be enjoyed at one sitting. World news? There's always tomorrow.
Today wasn’t as fun for me because of one thing: Black Friday.
With all the traveling and visiting, I can never shop on Black Friday. It’s not that I even like to shop AT ALL, but when if seems like everyone else is doing it, I feel a sense of urgency that comes from peer pressure, I suppose. But the people who are pressuring me aren’t my peers, but the people on TV and in the newspapers and on the radio.
Tom and I are in the market for a new car, and I read that statistically Black Friday is the best day of the YEAR to buy a car. Aargh. Missed it. Now, regardless of which of the 364 other days we choose, we’ll feel like chumps.
Last night, while visiting my dear relatives, it was all I could do to not whip over to the local Walmart and start scooping up socks, undies, and small electronics. Their pristine, country Walmart was just down the road and if our little car hadn’t been packed to the gills with all of our travel crap (and it did feel like crap by day 4), I would have done it. The clown-car situation, with stuffed packed on the dashboard and under our feet, made me sit down at the farm table with a cup of spiced tea and enjoy the company instead. It was the better choice and one I enjoyed thoroughly.
But to arrive home to find my newspapers full of ONE DAY ONLY offers and coupons for a day that had already passed was a little disheartening. It appears that Target, Toys R Us, Michael’s—well, just about everyone—was handing out free money and merchandise on Friday. I almost get the impression the parking lots were paved in gold.
So what’s your take? Did you run around snapping up the deals, or did you lay low? I’m usually finished shopping before Thanksgiving so this year I feel behind before I’ve even started.
Even as I type this I have the urge to hop on over to Amazon to see if there are any good deals left, so I guess I'm pretty caught up in this whole consumer culture. I must say, however, that having the chance to spend time with my 90+ year old grandparents, who have been married 74 years (!!!) was better than any Early Bird Special on the planet.