In our family every Black Friday is an adventure and, like all great adventures, they all have catchy titles. There is always some aspect that sticks in my memory, and forever afterward the shopping trip is known as “The year we…” (Apparently I want to the same school of naming things as the writers of “Friends”)
1. “The Year We Rode the Bikes” If you read my earlier article about How To Survive Black Friday, you may recognize this as our first ever foray into the breach. My husband and I bought two little bicycles for our boys, who were six at the time, and proceeded to ride them back to the car through the pothole riddled Wal-Mart parking lot amid cheers and laughter from the people who hadn’t yet made it through the doors.
2. “The Year I Almost Broke Mita’s Neck” Mita is my husband, and this story isn’t nearly as exciting as it sounds. We spent Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house in North Carolina and decided that we still wanted to go shopping, despite being unfamiliar with the area. We did some extra research and made a map and by 5 AM we were ready. Between stores two and three there was a dark, empty parking lot with speed humps cleverly disguised as pedestrian cross-walks. Well, I hit one of these while driving somewhat faster than I usually do in a parking lot because there was no one around and I was excited about getting the kids a new GameCube. My husband, who is a habitual non-seatbelt-wearer, bounced straight up and cracked his head on the roof of the car. He then spent the rest of the day complaining about how I broke his neck to anyone who would listen – but we did get the GameCube ;).
3. “The Year We Were In West Virginia” This year was notable for its lack of excitement. We were spending the holiday in the middle of nowhere West Virginia, I had severe sciatica that made it hard for me to stand for more than a few minutes at a time, and the nearest shopping center was two hours away. We got up kind of early and went to the drugstore just to say that we did some shopping the day after Thanksgiving. I think we got my daughter a big Dora the Explorer pillow/doll.
4. “The Year Waffle House Ran Out of Cheese” This is my favorite of all the year titles. It is just the kind of semi-absurd phrase that I live for (we will further explore my logophilia at a later date). Anyway, this particular year we were in the unique position of having an hour to kill before the next store on our list opened, so we decided to fortify ourselves at the Waffle House. As we walked in, one of the waitresses called out “You can stay if you want, but we’re out of cheese!” This year we had a friend with us, so we all three looked at each other to see how everyone felt about cheese-less Waffle House. For those of you who do not frequent any twenty-four-hour-greasy-spoon-type diners, imagine walking into a fast food restaurant and being told “We’re all out of meat.” It is a strange and unusual experience. In this case, though, we all decided we could forgo the cheese just this once. So we sat down and started to place our order. As it turned out, cheese was not the only thing they were out of. There was no bacon, no eggs, no butter, and no more toast. Waffle House had turned into Old Mother Hubbard’s House. When we heard someone say “Looks like we’re out of coffee,” we decided to try our luck elsewhere. We found out later that the third-shift manager had left with the key to the cooler, so they did have the stuff, they just couldn’t get to it. The three of us went to a different Waffle House, one that wasn’t within a half-mile of Wal-Mart, Target and The Mall, had a very satisfying breakfast and continued on with our shopping.
5. “The Year I Got Legos and Cat Food” What can I say? We didn’t have much money for Black Friday, but there was a 2-for-1 sale on the big expensive Lego sets. While I was in the store I remembered that we needed cat food (our cat is a vicious ankle-biter when she is hungry), so my entire shopping trip consisted of spending an hour in line at Target to buy Legos and cat food. It was totally worth it, one of the Lego sets was for me :).
I can’t say for sure about this year. My titles are, after all, the way we remember each year and it’s a little early to say how I’m going to remember all this next year. There are a few possibilities, like “The Year We Started at Midnight” or “The Year We Finished At 6 AM,” but I suspect this will be forever known as “The Year Of The Josh.” My fourteen-year-old son came with us this year, and he was awesome. Anyone who knows Josh will not find this surprising, as he is generally pretty awesome, but for those who have not had the pleasure you’ll just have to take my word for it. He is tall-ish and thin, so he moved through the crowds like an eel. There were many times, while we were standing in epic lines, that one of our group would spot something and say “Josh! Grab me one of those in an XL,” and he would slip into the seething masses and reappear with it a few seconds later. He also scouted lines and acted as a place-holder when necessary. However, it was not so much what he did, it was how he did it. He is unflappable. He remained calm and quietly cheerful throughout. I am not exaggerating when I say he was like a little island of serenity in the insanity. And he laughed at my goofy jokes when I started to get slap-happy from lack of sleep.
I like to remember the good things about our Black Friday tradition, because every year has humor, triumph and fun along with the back-aches and hassle, and as far as I’m concerned hanging out with Josh was the best thing about this year’s adventure. So here’s to The Year of Josh. We’ll have a hard time topping this one.