Have I ever mentioned how much I love pie? My whole family does, and on Thanksgiving Day, you can expect to find a plethora of every kind of pie. Well, okay, maybe there are a few types that we don’t make—depending on who’s coming—but generally, we end up with an entire pie per person. This has been a tradition within my mother’s family since before I was born and longer.
Sounds like a waste, I know. But eventually, it all gets eaten and the consumers of pie are happy. Granted, it takes a few days to finish off the leftovers, but leftovers are a huge part of the big day, right?
It’s like that episode of Friends in which Ross has a meltdown because someone at work stole and ate his Thanksgiving leftover sandwich with the “moist-maker” in it, and has to go to rage management therapy to keep his job. Ever since seeing that episode, I’ve been convinced that without leftovers, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be such a big deal. But I didn’t really need a TV show to tell me that.
Anyway, after the big day was over, I took my girls with me for Black Friday shopping. I’ve gone every year since my kids were little. Yes, it sounds crazy, and I’ve seen and heard a lot of people lamenting the crowds and the insanity of the whole weekend. But I’m a Black Friday shopper, and I’m proud to admit it.
For one thing, I love a great deal. Partly because I’m cheap. When I need to buy something, I prefer to buy it for the smallest amount of money possible. Really, saving five or ten dollars per item adds up. And I can give up a little bit of sleep in order to stretch my budget. Which brings me to another point. I’ve never been rich, and have no idea what it feels like to go out and buy something without first looking at the price tag and evaluating if it’s worth the asking price.
I learned when my kids were small that I can stretch my budget much farther by watching the ads and getting to the stores early in order to purchase highly desired things at half price or lower. Yes, the crowds are insane. Yes, I’ve seen several fistfights over five-dollar Barbies. Yes, I’ve had things snatched out of my arms before, and had to chase someone down to get them back. But I do it for my children. Never has a Christmas passed when they didn’t have that one item that was most important on their wish list under the tree. Not because I paid a fortune for it on ebay, but because I made sure to be at the right place, on the right day and in the right frame of mind. It takes planning, and sacrifice, and guts. And I learned all these things from not only my own mother, but from my dear departed mother-in-law, who taught me the value of strategic planning.
I miss her terribly at this time of year. Her birthday was last Wednesday, and we had so much preparing to do that we never made it to the cemetery. But I thought of her all day, and wondered if she would be proud of how we’re doing. I feel her presence sometimes and know she is watching out for us on the other side of the veil. I hope she knows how much we miss her.
It is in her honor that I will teach my daughters how to get the most out of their money by shopping the ads—even the Black Friday ones. I will teach them how to plan, how to zoom from store to store grabbing and buying only the most important sale items and waiting on the rest. Eventually, everything is featured in some kind of sale or special deal, and when an item we're after is included, we’ll be there. This has been a tradition in the Giles family, one passed from Carol to her girls—including me. It’s a bonding thing, a learning thing, and best of all, a memory we’re creating for the future.
And hopefully when I’m gone my girls will remember our shopping trips fondly and pass the lessons on to their kids so Carol’s tradition will continue into the future. After all, traditions are important in every family, and family is what the holidays are about.
So do me a favor. If you are a Black Friday shopper, be proud. And if you’re on the other team, the one who teases, laments, and boos the die-hards, remember that behind each of us lies an important motivator, a reason for which we make the sacrifice and go to the work it takes to shop on that day. And believe me, it’s a lot of work. Maybe we are a little bit crazy. Insane even. But no one would go to these extremes without a reason—and we all have one. For a select few, the motivators might be consumer greed. But for the vast majority, it’s a matter of savvy money saving skill, done on behalf of the important people in our lives. We are the people who will take risks in order to give a thoughtful gift. Because a gift card can only go so far.