Ode to Black Friday

As I wandered the Altamonte Mall on the day before Thanksgiving, I wondered if Black Friday was coming off life support. There were definite signs that customers were being wooed back to the brick-and-mortar shops. I even spotted this team stocking the stores with goodies to sustain the merchants through the “big day.”

When my children were young, I looked forward to shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. I didn’t even mind getting up pre-dawn to do so. I have wonderful memories of picking up my mom and heading out for the Black Friday Shopping Expedition. We would use the newspaper to map out our path. (By the way, that is my favorite type of mapping.) You would need two hands to hold that massive issue with its dozens of Black Friday ads.

There were always bargains to be found. JC Penney would give away ornaments like this one from 1996. There would be scratch-offs for prizes and discounts. The jewelry shops often gave away goodie bags with little “gold” charms inside them. Target and Home Depot gave great incentives for stopping in early. Early meant around 5 am. That was doable.

Eventually my mom lost interest in the adventure and my daughter was only too interested in stepping into this grown-up outing. We always hit the mall, especially Penney’s, and Target and Bealls. I do admit to going to Walmart a time or two, but for me, it just wasn’t worth the crazy.

Confession: Over the past five years I have been losing interest in Black Friday. Probably because as I have gotten older, and I’d rather not exhaust myself in the pursuit of bargains. My daughter, however, has not reached that point. I dedicate this post to her. She is in mourning over Black Friday, which by all accounts from the last two years has gone from life-support to flatlining.

She loved going out at midnight on Thanksgiving and staying out for 12 hours was not uncommon for her. I drew the line on that one, but I have joined her for a few hours during a more civilized time on that Friday. Mainly, I’d do this out of guilt. You know the power your adult children can wield – especially if they throw in the word tradition. It was a tradition, but like so many traditions, it changes through the years and generations.

Even though I was fairly certain of my Black Friday plans, I picked up the local Orlando Sentinel. It was so skinny! I also had sticker shock as it cost $5.35!

Bob and I have one all-important stop on Black Friday, and we don’t have to be there until 9 am. If you read me at all regularly, you can probably guess it’s Costco. Who can resist $8 off a pork loin or $10 off a Butterball turkey? Not me. And as of this year, not my daughter either. She sadly admitted to me over the phone that Costco had the best Black Friday deals. I couldn’t see her face, but I think there was a little catch in her voice. At least her family of six will be eating pork and turkey for the next few months.

We will tell our grandchildren of those days of old. The days when Black Friday meant something. The days of people being trampled in hot pursuit of a bargain. The days of people camping out in front of Best Buy to snag that new mega-TV or gaming system. The days before Black Friday became a joke that lasted all the way through November. Sigh. Those were the days. How did we get here? I’m putting a lot of the blame on COVID. I’m reminiscing about the song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” by Peter Seeger.

Here’s my rendition.

Ode to Black Friday

(Where Have all the Sales Gone)

Where have all the sale ads gone

Long time passing

Where have all the sale ads gone

Long time ago

Where have all the sale ads gone

COVID took them one by one

When will they please return?

Oh when will they, return?

Where have all the papers gone

Long time passing

Where have all the papers gone

Long time ago

Where have all the papers gone?

Gone to online every one.

Oh when will they return?

When will they ever return?

Where have all the shoppers gone

Long time passing

Where have all the shoppers gone

Long time ago

Where have all the shoppers gone

Buying on Amazon every one

They never leave their home

They never leave their home.

A classic for you – Joan Baez singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”

Bonus weird Thanksgiving product

Black Friday

I have considered wearing an armband to show that I am grieving over the loss of Black Friday. Gather around and let me tell you the story of the true meaning of this shopping event. If you started Black Friday shopping in the last 10 or 15 years, then you have no idea the fun you missed.

First of all, nothing was open on Thanksgiving Day except for the occasional grocery and convenience store. We ate our feast and played games together and watched football. Movie theaters were open. Many times, we’d catch a holiday movie on Thanksgiving evening with family and friends. After which we would go home and enjoy one more piece of pie and go to bed because we had to get up early the next day.

Early meant around 5 am. Lots of stores opened at 5 or 6 and my mom and I would plan our route by scouring the ads in Thursday’s paper. Why get an early start? There were lots of good deals, but also you could get free stuff. FREE. You didn’t have to buy anything. Amazing.

Free ornament from J C Penney’s – I put this on the tree every year and it reminds me of shopping on Black Friday with my mom.

The jewelry store in the mall gave out coupons to possibly win a piece of jewelry and they’d give you little cheap charms, too. J.C. Penney would have their free Christmas ornaments. Target gave out goody bags full of swag. And that’s just to name a few things.

We would finish our shopping before noon, come home, eat another turkey sandwich, and decorate the house. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done during what was the kick-off of the season.

I remember back in the 1990s when my daughter Dena had reached the age where she was old enough to go with me. She was thrilled. Now a mother of teenagers herself, she has turned Black Friday into an event of epic proportions. This year she started out late on Thursday night with her 16-year-old daughter, returned home several hours later for a nap, and then went back out again, this time making it a foursome with her 14-year-old daughter and me. She has more energy than Charlie Brown has anxieties.

 

New Black Friday memories

I have given up being excited about the event, but I am excited about spending time with my daughter and granddaughters – to a point, that is. I won’t leave the house until 9 am, and my first stop has to be Costco. That’s where the real magic happens.

I wanted to introduce Dena to the joys of Costco Black Friday shopping. I’m not talking about the things you find in their ads; I’m talking about food. Food that you and your family and friends will eat and then you can brag about the deal you got on it. Plus, you don’t have to get up before the crack of dawn. And that’s a huge plus.

In years gone by we have gotten Butterball turkeys for two or three dollars. This year, unfortunately, Costco was better about judging how many turkeys they needed for Thanksgiving, so none were left, but that still left the pork loin.

 

At $8 off per package, we got this baby and five more like him for around $4. That’s three for Dena and three for us. Her family of six will devour a half a one in one meal – that’s $2 a meal. Score! Bob and I will cut ours in thirds and we’ll be eating pork until next Black Friday.

Later in the weekend, when my non-Black-Friday-shopping daughter-in-law asked Dena what her best bargain of the day was, you can only imagine my joy when she said $4 pork roast. Score one for Costco and getting up after the sun rises on Black Friday. I may as well say it, score one for me, too.