Black Friday Shopping Might Seem Uncool -- but It De-Stresses My December

 woman with shopping bags

Confession: I love going shopping on Black Friday. I know it's becoming increasingly uncool to admit that, but there, I said it. Getting up at the crack of dawn (or before) to head out to the stores is a Thanksgiving tradition that's just as dear to me as having a late-night turkey-and-cranberry sandwich after all the leftovers are finally put away. I've been shopping on Black Friday for as long as I can remember and I have no plans to give up my day-after-turkey-day plans anytime soon.

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I know for many people, the idea of leaving a warm, comfy bed and going out in the cold to shop in crowded stores simply to save a little money sounds like madness. But for me, Black Friday shopping actually makes the Christmas season less stressful and more fun.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I love to see all the stores decorated for the holidays, still glittering and organized before crowds of disgruntled late-December shoppers bump into the displays and knock off ornaments or cause an elf or two to crumble.

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Each year, I spend the weeks before Black Friday looking at flyers to figure out what the best deals are and what my store game plan will be. I make a list of every single person I need to buy for with a strict budget. Then, on the day after Thanksgiving, I burn off that second slice of pumpkin pie by racing around town trying to get every item on my long list. All this planning allows me to score deals on thing I otherwise couldn't afford to gift. For me, getting to buy bigger and better gifts (that I otherwise might not have been able to afford) for the people I love is well worth getting out of bed early. 

I know my friends and family love me unconditionally and we don't need to exchange physical presents to let each other know how important we are to one another, but my inner elf loves watching others' expressions as they open gifts that I've carefully selected for them. I like being the aunt who managed to score the toy that all the stores didn't have in stock the week before Christmas or the sister who got that expensive hand cream you love but never splurge on for yourself (it was a doorbuster deal!). Plus, the only thing on television the day after Thanksgiving is football, and I never really got into the game, so I'd honestly rather be shopping.

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My twin boys are 3 years old and have always been early risers. On Black Friday, rather than argue with them that it's too early to get up or allowing them to zone out in front of cartoons so I can get another half hour of sleep as I usually do, I get up. Since the stores are already open, we can bundle up and head out into the world with something to do.

And the best part about going out with young kids on Black Friday in particular is that no matter how much of a tantrum my children have, on Black Friday chances are there's a full-grown adult behaving worse, probably because the store ran out of flat-screen TVs.

Black Friday is also a great family bonding experience. It's admittedly stressful to navigate your way through giant crowds of people, especially with kids and a shopping cart or two in tow. But instead of getting snippy with each other, my husband and I treat the experience like we're on The Amazing Race. We devise a plan to split up our list or one of us will distract the kids while the other sneaks off to help Santa buy a toy.

Often my mom and sister will come along with us. Spending time going from store to store with them reminds me of our Saturdays spent in the mall growing up or Black Fridays past -- complete with my sister and I bickering. Thanksgiving is a short holiday, but going out shopping on Black Friday is one way to make sure the family spends a lot of quality time together. Instead of everyone zoning out in front of their own phone while we sit around on the couch, we're talking, laughing, and fighting over the fastest way to get to the mall.

As an adult who knows the truth about Santa Claus, I will say that the magic of Christmas just isn't the same as it was when I was a little girl. But when I get to that register and see the total amount due is far less than I thought it would be for all my goodies, I'm thrilled. That rush I get when scoring a truly great deal is just a tiny bit like seeing that Santa Claus has come and left presents under the tree while I was asleep.

I know that some people view Black Friday as the perfect example of consumerism in American culture. They claim the workers should be home with their families instead of working. But working on a holiday is nothing new in our country. EMTs, police, hospital staff, and others work 365 days a year. And I agree that Thanksgiving should be a day for family, and that retail workers aren't necessary in the same way that a 911 dispatcher is.

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This is why I refuse to go Black Friday shopping until Friday. This way I get to enjoy the holiday with my family and I'm hopefully not encouraging companies to continue to open their stores on Thanksgiving, but rather to keep shopping to the day after the holidays. I also believe in the power of supporting local businesses, which is why I purchase all my stocking stuffers, Secret Santa exchange gifts, and gift wrap from shops in my local downtown.

Say what you want about Black Friday. Call it evil, ridiculous, or just not for you. But I think it's awesome that I get all my holiday shopping done before the kids break open a single square on their chocolate Advent calendars. While everyone else is spending their weekends in December standing in line at the mall or searching for items that are long out of stock, I'll be at home baking cookies, listening to Christmas carols, and actually getting to enjoy the season. 

 

Image via iStock.com/Csondy

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