The Real Black Friday Experience

For decades, literally, I had zero interest in shopping on Black Friday. I couldn’t understand why anyone in their right mind would get out of their warm bed in the middle of a cold November night to sit for what might be hours outside a store, waiting for the moment it opened.

What in heaven’s name could be worth doing that? The smile on your child’s face when they get that one special toy for which you had to fight off other desperate adults with the same idea? Give me a break. If that’s what motivates you, you must be a better parent than I am.

I do remember one year, after hearing my babysitter’s daughters talk about the great deals they got and how exciting it was to be a part of that tradition that I decided to give it one try – but I had to do it on my own terms (of course).

First of all, there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to sit in my car, let alone in a cold tent or on a sidewalk or anywhere else, waiting for a store to open. I’ve seen enough news coverage of people stampeding and trampling and having absolutely no consideration for anything or anyone. I’ve heard the stories about fights breaking out and general chaos as people seem to abandon all consideration for their fellow humans in the midst of retail madness.

No thanks. I don’t do well with crowds on a good day. I got up at a reasonable hour (7 a.m.-ish) and drove to a giant retailer near my home. The kids were small then, and I left before they were up. My husband even wished me “good luck and be safe,” if memory serves.

I had no agenda. I was armed only with a short list, and a hot cup of coffee. I didn’t bother looking for a shopping cart; there were none to be found, and that was ok. It was really the experience of being there that I wanted, not so much finding the presents on my list. I took a deep breath, let it out, and entered the store.

It was crowded, indeed, and there was Christmas music playing and noise everywhere. It was chaotic and truly an assault on the senses but, to my surprise, it was an organized chaos, if there is such a thing.

There was no angry mob, fighting for the last of something. There was no frustrated shouting or heated arguments. People were smiling. They were happy. They weren’t in a hurry, but seemed unusually patient with the long lines in which they were waiting. They sipped from their cups and chatted with one another, or with the person in front or behind them.

Strangers smiled at me and wished me Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. This unexpectedly cheerful atmosphere caused me to relax a little, unclenching my hand just a bit from my coffee cup. I even smiled back, and replied in kind.

I was confused, though. Where was the hysteria, the stampedes, the worst examples of human behavior at the most sacred time of year? Not there, anyway. Not that day.

In the years since, as my girls have gotten older, we have ventured out on an occasional Black Friday morning (still no earlier than 7 a.m., sorry) to experience not what I once thought would be something awful, but to be among people who were happy, and were celebrating the love of family and friends with this small tradition. The whole point wasn’t really the shopping. It was doing something together. That’s what really mattered.

And, yes, there really are some good deals to be found.

About Ann Luongo

Ann Luongo is the Marketing Writer and Lifestyle Reporter for CapeCod.com, and has been writing for Cape Cod and South Shore publications for over 15 years.



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