I’ve never made a point of shopping on Black Friday.  At least not for any of the supposed deals.  My house already has one more TV than I need.  When I was first on my own and would sometimes go home for Thanksgiving, I’d go to a local mall and walk Friday morning with my dad.  I don’t recall any mad rush of shoppers. 

Sometimes I only got to see them 4 times a year.  With the spacing I could see their decline.

Yesterday, I noticed a line forming outside Target at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  Last year it snaked around the building.  Black Friday now gets started Thanksgiving Day.  Wouldn’t you rather be with family and friends and watching the Dallas Cowboys lose (oh, it was almost as good as the meal)?

All my surviving family members live east of the Mississippi River.  I shop online.  The gifts arrive early and there aren’t any surprises Christmas morning.  People are already wearing their gifts two weeks in advance.

What I really miss is shopping.  Slowly, in a store.  Without large crowds.  There was a Christmas in the early 1990s when the country was just coming off a recession.  A neighbor was going shopping on the 18th of December.  It was a Tuesday.  She asked if I wanted to go along.  The mall we shopped at was like a ghost town.  It was a snowy weeknight.  We stopped for dinner between stores and wandered and browsed.

For me, it was an enjoyable experience.  I had a list.  I filled it and the following weekend got up early on a Saturday and wrapped and wasn’t in any rush.  The next day I drove home for the holiday.  It’s the way it should be done.  It was almost stress free.  “Almost” is a qualifier.  Parents still give you advice about life you’re no longer looking for and during those years there were the goodbyes.  My folks were getting older.  I lived a 3 hour drive away.  Not quite close enough for frequent visits.  Sometimes I only got to see them 4 times a year.  With the spacing I could see their decline.

Today, the memories are more important than rushing to a store for cheap Asian trinkets.  It wasn’t what they believed Thanksgiving, Christmas and the weeks between were about.  It was about quality time and knowing no man or woman lives forever.  Toys, TVs, and toasters are even more transitory.  Choose wisely.

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