Falce: I am not a Black Friday shopper
“So what is our strategy for Black Friday?”
My husband asked me this two days before Thanksgiving, while I was making pies and cranberry sauce. We had been married less than two weeks.
When you get married, you realize that you have to integrate traditions for holidays. My mother’s stuffing. Your grandmother’s pumpkin roll. Eating turkey at three different houses so no one gets offended. Sacrifices are made.
I knew I had married an Italian guy from Munhall. An Eagle Scout. A country music fan. A La Roche grad. Until that moment, I had no idea I had married a Black Friday shopper.
I didn’t know what to say. I felt a little betrayed. How could he not tell me? How was I just finding this out now? What else didn’t I know about him?
I was not raised to stand in the cold outside a department store for hours before it opened in the darkest hours of morning. The day after Thanksgiving was not for shopping in my family. It was for systematically dismantling a turkey carcass and beginning the process of making gallons of stock that would become soup, glorious soup.
It was the day my mother cleaned the house like she was going to perform brain surgery on the couch, then coerced children or my stepfather into carting box after box of Christmas decorations out of the basement to be cleaned, assembled and deployed like legions of glittery soldiers stationed around the living room, dining room and foyer.
It was a day for Bing Crosby and “Miracle on 34th Street,” leftovers and nesting. Not for going out into the world.
“Um, I don’t know. Do you want to go somewhere?”
He looked at me like I was speaking French and cocked his head to the side, confused, the idea of not going shopping too alien to comprehend. And then his face crumbled like pie crust.
“Oh, I guess we don’t have to.”
I sighed. This is marriage. Give and take. I gave in. That’s when I realized that when he said “strategy,” he meant it the way Patton would have meant it. He had plans and schedules and a spreadsheet. At 2 a.m. Friday, he rousted me from bed and started marching me through his checklist of stores and gifts like we were a SEAL team on a mission.
That was the year we started giving my mother Christmas village houses, and the year my nephews got Nerf guns the size of small ponies and my niece batted her big kitten-y eyes and got the first of many, many overpriced dolls from her adoring uncle.
We didn’t do Black Friday every year. My husband learned the joy of not fighting traffic or participating in cart-to-cart combat. But that wasn’t the last Black Friday we spent staking out our prey and dragging it back home strapped to the car like an early hunting trophy.
I sympathize with the people who decry the annual shopping odyssey as crowded and chaotic and crass and commercial and totally at odds with the day that precedes it and the intention of the holidays that follow. I get it. I agree.
But now and then, it’s an exhilarating rush when you find a way to give someone you love something you otherwise couldn’t afford.
I lost my husband a few months before our 10th anniversary. I haven’t done Black Friday since.
But when I turn on some “Silver Bells” and start hauling out the decorations, I will put up a 7-foot-tall tree sparkling with lights and hung with years of his Black Friday treasures, and I’ll be glad for those early mornings in the cold darkness.
Lori Falce is the Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact
Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org.