The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 11, 2013

The most wonderful shopping time of the year

I even enjoy Black Friday

By Shannon Beamon, Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 — It seems like stories of Black Friday violence are getting more and more common.

The big story this year happened at a Kohls in Chicago, where a police officer was dragged by a car, forcing another officer to shoot the driver. Luckily there were no fatalities.

Last year it was a Walmart in Florida, where an argument in the parking lot led to two people being shot.

Just bring up the topic of Black Friday nowadays and you’ll get swamped with did-you-hears and tales of storeside treachery. No wonder half of America’s population flinches at the idea of going Black Friday shopping.

I mean seriously, who would want to step out into that kind of mess and spend money? It’s given Black Friday shopping a bad rap, when really that’s not what the Black Friday experience is about at all.

Now, I have been going out on Black Friday since I was about 12. I know I may not be old by some people’s standards, but that still gives me over a decade of Black Friday shopping experience.

In all that time, I have never seen anything close to that kind of violence.

Now admittedly, my family doesn’t hit up the super-stores like Walmart or Target. Black Friday is our clothes shopping day so we’re usually at the department stores like Macy’s or Sears or J.C. Penney’s. However, these stores have their stereotypes, too. Women beating each other with purses or snatching merchandise out of each other’s hands.

Doesn’t happen. I think the most violent thing I ever did was hide a dress I liked on the men’s clothing rack or jog a couple of steps to get to the cash register before my sister. I’m not even sure that counts.

But the point is that for the majority of us Black Friday shoppers, it isn’t a battle or a competition. It isn’t about winning that TV or coming away with that pair of blue jeans. Really it isn’t even about buying things. It’s more about family and tradition.

I mean, sure, we’re there to buy things, you’ve got to get your Christmas presents, but there’s more to it than that. Think of it as Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, you’re there to eat, but that’s not the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is that time you spend together.

The first time my mom and grandma asked if my sister, my cousin and I wanted to go Black Friday shopping with them, we were so excited we probably scared them. We were looking through sales papers, whispering conspiratorially and compiling a much-too-long list of places we wanted to go.

They probably were thinking, something like, “Good heavens, what have we gotten ourselves into?”

But whether help of hinderance, they still took us along.

The first item I purchased that day was a blender.

I had overheard my mother saying she needed a new one. So while she, my cousin and my sister were looking at pants, me and my grandma slipped away to the bottom floor of Sears.

Sure enough, it was there, just as the sales paper had said. A shiny new blender marked down to $20.

“Here take this,” my grandma said as she handed me a coupon.

Now my grandma is the master of coupons (I’ve learned my trade from the best) and this one was a jewel. Five dollars off $20.

I went up to the register gave the lady my coupon and, wa-lah, I had a blender for $15. I think I was more excited at the prospect of sharing the good deal with my mom than I was about surprising her with the blender.

When I look back on it, I know that’s why they brought us along that day. To share those little joys. To build those kinds of memories. They’d been going Black Friday shopping together for years, and it was something they wanted to share.

That, my friends, is the true heart of the matter.

Black Friday has become as much a part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition as turkey, yeast rolls and my aunt’s chocolate eclair. The season just wouldn’t be the same without cutting coupons, waking up in the wee hours to raid newspaper stands for more, and munching on ham rolls as we speed along to the first store.

Now, I know there will always be people who refuse to venture out their doors that day. I’m not here to make you; it just means better deals for me. But I just want you to understand that it was never about petty fights or frivolous spending. It’s not about what you see on TV.

It’s about knowing your mom will appreciate not just the blender, but the deal you made on it, too. It’s about your grandmother admiring you in that dress and slipping you an extra $5 to get it. It’s about pointing out a skirt to your sister and sharing a coupon with your cousin. It’s about knowing you got the right gift for the right person and finding satisfaction in that.

Trust me, there’s a great number of us out there who are really quite sane.

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanlynews