Friday, November 28, 2003

Blackout Friday 

I used to love shopping on Black Friday. In fact, it used to be a tradition for me. When I lived in Center City Philadelphia, I would get up very early in the morning and drive to the Northeast to shop at Franklin Mills Mall -- one of the busiest malls imaginable. They bus people into this mall from all over the tri-state area as though it were some sort of theme park. The hoards arrive in comfortable shoes clutching coupon booklets seeking big bargains. The atmosphere is highly charged with the joyous anticipation of finding the perfect gift.

I didn't even care if I needed to buy anything -- I just wanted to be where the action was. I would spend most of the day people watching. (The other half was spent shoe shopping and eating those gigantic buttery pretzals.)

Living in a mall town has changed all that for me. Now I don’t even like to leave the house on Black Friday unless it’s on foot with a dog attached. Where I live, traveling by car on this shopping spree of a day has become treacherous -- and trying to actually buy anything, a test of patience and endurance. Neither of which I seem to have anymore when it comes to shopping.

That's why I got most of my Christmas shopping done last month. Yes, last month. While the rest of the world was buying Halloween candy, I was buying Christmas presents. Even my husband, who does most of his shopping online these days, was impressed. But in these days of accelerated holiday marketing, where Halloween costumes were placed alongside back-to-school must-haves and Christmas decorations are up in the department stores before Halloween, it was the only sane thing I could do.

I must admit it felt good to kick back and relax today instead of joining the fray on the highways and in the malls. I even took a nap.

So my new nickname for the day after Thanksgiving is "Blackout Friday," a day to blot out consumerism and do something creative with that leftover turkey.
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