Many of my friends and family eagerly await Black Friday. Not me. I’ve experienced post-Turkey Day shopping once—I don’t remember the name the store gave the event. For my memory bank, I dubbed it the ‘Santa Special.’
My mom was always the consummate shopper. Mom could go into a store, spend six hours examining merchandise, and manage to come out of that store with a super bargain. During the same six hours, if I found anything other than tired feet, it was always something that wasn’t discounted.
One year, my brother decided to give Mom and me tickets to the Santa Special at a major department store in South Carolina. I remember thanking my brother while wondering, How could he?
Part of the proceeds went to charity. I don’t recall the exact time the doors opened; I do remember standing in the cold for an hour or so waiting for management to let us in.
For as long as I can remember, I have never enjoyed shopping. I shop when I have to. This was beneficial to our budget but often frustrating to my female friends and relatives. When I need something, I make a list, head to the store and once I locate the items, I book. Sometimes I yield to an impulse purchase. I’m an off-hours shopper.
At any rate, Mom and I headed to that store in the wee hours, and when the doors finally opened, I realized I would probably need to protect both of us. You hear a lot about aggression in men. But you haven’t seen aggression until you witness myriad units of estrogen stampeding glass doors to get a designer purse at a 75 percent discount.
On that particular morning, my mom strolled the aisles as she methodically inspected sweaters, shirts, pants and anything else suitable for the people on her Christmas list. Her facial expression alternated between the bliss of a kid eating an ice cream cone and a brain surgeon excising a tumor.
I browsed a few aisles and after 15 minutes, I realized I’d rather scrub the kitchen floor on my hands and knees than participate in a special shopping event.
The people in the store were largely women. These females were consumer warriors clutching marked down goods with the fervor a woman normally applies to a child in imminent danger. I remember deciding I’d walk outside and get a cup of coffee if anyone else in the mall was open. That got nixed when the employee at the door told me I couldn’t get back in if I went out.
We navigated retail chaos for about 4-5 hours, shoulder to shoulder females on a collective mission to find the holy grail in bargain discounts. My mom found super deals. She couldn’t believe all I had in my hands at checkout was one item. I remember when I asked her if she was ready to go and she said yes, I felt like I’d dodged a root canal.
There were no brawls in the store that day, although there were a few snarky remarks exchanged when two shoppers went for the same item at the same time. There was a bit of passive aggressive shoulder shoving and a few snide remarks, but no Chicago-style tactics. Although it was cold outside, the air inside the store was stifling because of all the body heat coupled with the fact the heating system was obviously working overtime.
My mom’s age prevents her from indulging herself in the shopping marathons she’s famous for in our family. I still don’t like to shop. The strange thing is that my trip to the Santa Special with her remains one of my favorite holiday memories. I have no idea why—maybe it’s just the fact that the daughter who always hated shopping managed to make her mom very happy by accompanying her to a shopping marathon.
Taking her to the Santa Special was probably one of the best gifts I ever gave my mom. And if I ever go to a Black Friday event again, you can bet your credit card the only reason I would do it would be for love. The smile on Mom’s face and the good time she had that day—those were the real deals I bagged.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Nov. 23, 2012)