A very personal blog post by Cayleigh Palen
Black Friday, the event that happens every year and “officially” kicks off the holiday shopping season. I have always gone shopping on Black Friday, but as I have gotten older I have had to defend my decision more and more each year. Defending myself sounded silly, why are people I encounter so anti-Black Friday, why have these awful stereotypes for the day emerged? People instantly imagine three elderly women and a biker fighting over a crockpot in the middle of a store. I personally have never encountered a full-blown brawl, but have heard the occasional scuffle breaks out on Black Friday. To get a better understanding on why I insist braving the crowds, lines and overall bombardment of people I had to do some deep soul searching.
From the Beginning
I still have that vivid memory 20 years ago of my mom waking me up at 4:00 a.m. with a coat in hand and glass of juice. Today was the day I get inducted into the Black Friday Club that consisted of my mom, her best friend Tiffany and my aunt. For years, I had watched them leave every Black Friday and were gone all day in what I imagined was the time of their life. They talked about it for weeks leading up to it and always seemed to have a carefully crafted agenda. I begged to go each year and finally my time had come. I remember every single place we went, every place we ate and every parking deck we spent hours in looking for a spot. Do you know what I don’t remember? I don’t remember a single thing that was bought.
Fast forward to 2017 and I feel like I never have the same experience I did all those years as a child. I couldn’t figure out why Black Friday seemed so lack luster. I narrowed down the reasons I gave myself for going, look at all these deals! Then the harsh reality of adult hood had snuck in somewhere between 8-years-old and 28-years-old, money doesn’t grow on trees. Budgeting for Black Friday seemed ridiculous, essentially budgeting for a shopping spree. Even a 55-inch 4k TV that is 50 percent off still costs $400, and to put that into perspective in the United States that’s a 55-hour paycheck at minimum wage (and that’s before Uncle Sam gets his cut). There are only so many deals and so many things you actually need. If we’re being honest that TV is for sale online somewhere and probably at an even better price.
Again though, why am I not having the same fun I did as a child, this day was magical for me and somehow, I was falling short re-creating those moments. Then it hit me, I was judging the success of my Black Friday based on the things I bought and brought home. Judging my experience on the amount of money I had managed to save for this mega shopping day. When had I become so vein? Even though the majority of the shopping wasn’t for myself, I felt ashamed at my attitude! The reason I never could measure up to those childhood memories was because I lost sight of what those experiences meant to me. As I said before, and the biggest point of all, I do not remember a single physical item that was purchased on those fabulous Black Fridays.
Where to go from Here?
I feel like, as a millennial, we are in a fast-paced world. Instant gratification is the name of the game, and online shopping is taking over. What happened to the mere experience of going shopping? Of having two of your best friends with you for breakfast, lunch and an endless day of laughter. This is truly what the day is about. So this year, two friends in tow, we braved the lines with our fold out chairs and tumblers full of…ice water (or fermented white grapes). We talked, we laughed, we shopped and we disconnected from the stresses that we know comes with the holidays. I finally recreated the magical days I had as a child, but with the wisdom of an adult and knowing just how important creating memories like this truly are.