Happy Holidays

Feeling Thankful for Black Friday

My family doesn’t shop a lot. We’ve even gotten away from most Christmas shopping. Last year the adults opted to do a white elephant gift exchange. Gifts had to be second hand, re-gifted, recycled, reused, or something handmade — you get the idea. We all have things in our houses that we no longer need or want and it was practical to do our “shopping at home.” It was also great fun to see what sort of gifts everyone came up with. We plan to do the same thing again this year.

Even though we are not big shoppers, it’s still fun to look at the huge stack of shopping ads that come in the Thanksgiving edition of the newspaper. It’s also nice to go out on Friday to see the first Christmas decorations of the year. I want nothing to do with midnight parking lots however, or standing in long lines to buy a $59 TV or bargain vacuum cleaner. So what is a person to do on Black Friday?

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Many years ago my husband and I started a Black Friday tradition. We climb into the car (but not at midnight!) and drive to our local Barnes & Noble bookstore where we meet Rocky and Kerry, our like-minded friends. On Black Friday the bookstore is a bit busier than usual. But it is, after all, still a bookstore which isn’t a huge draw for crazed Black Friday bargain hunters. We always find a space in the parking lot and the checkout line is never too long.

I leave John in the bargain books and wander off to the cookbooks or the magazine stands. Kerry might head to the knitting books. I run into Rocky in “Travel” and somehow the four of us always wind up in the “History” section. We do some book browsing but mostly we stand in the aisles of one section and then another and we talk.

When we tire of standing, we pay for our purchases and climb into our car or theirs. At a local restaurant we linger over a long lunch. I’m always surprised at how easy it is to get a table at lunchtime on Black Friday. While the mall and shopping plaza parking lots are filled to the street, it seems that shoppers are too busy to eat. We never have trouble getting a table at 11 AM or even noon. We enjoy a meal and even more, our friendship, next to a warming fireplace or a twinkling Christmas tree as holiday tunes play softly in the background.

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After lunch, once again avoiding the shopping mall crowd, we return to the bookstore where we snag a table and four chairs in the coffee shop. With hot chocolate and lattes all around, and perhaps a biscotti or shortbread cookie for dessert, we spend the remaining afternoon sharing stories and thoughts on politics, baseball, philosophy, travel, cats, and the kitchen sink. But mostly we share love.

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Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and Black Friday has become an important extension of it. While many grumble and complain about Black Friday crowds and commercialism, I’m happy to have a husband and friends that make the day extra special. Instead of hunting bargains I gain something much more valuable.

Black Friday is a day that I cherish and one that I am most thankful for.

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