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Monday, November 25, 2013

Don't Hate Me Because I Do My Black Friday Shopping On Thanksgiving Night

It's all over my Facebook  and Twitter feeds.

Don't shop on Thanksgiving night! 
Tell [Major Retailer] that Thanksgiving isn't about greed!
Say NO to Black Friday on Thanksgiving!

How dare these retailers try to steal our time with our families from us! It's wrong. Thanksgiving is a time for being thankful for what we've got, not for standing in line to see what we can get.

Thanksgiving is, above all, a time for family.

Except when it's not.

Hi, I'm Ellie, and I shop on Thanksgiving night. Before you grab your torches and pitchforks, I'll tell you why.

Here's the deal. I'm a single Mom. I'm a single Mom with no family around me for a thousand miles. Every year of my married life, we went to my in-law's house (or someone else on that side of the family) for Thanksgiving. I loved my husband's family. I still do.

But since he walked out the door, they're not my family anymore. They are, however, still my children's family, and since they're not local, Thanksgiving is the only time my kids get to see some of them. I therefore granted - in perpetuity through their childhood - the entire Thanksgiving holiday plus accompanying weekend to my ex.

That also means that sometimes, Thanksgiving is me, Netflix, and a turkey Lean Cuisine. I know that sounds pathetic, but honest, it's not. I get a lot done that weekend. I wrap a lot of presents. I get the Christmas tree up. I put the Christmas lights up outside. I bake. I address Christmas cards. When the kids come back, we decorate the tree together. All in all, it's not a bad weekend.

And one of the best parts of that, in recent years, anyway, are the few stores that open on Thanksgiving night to get a jump on Black Friday. Last year, I went to Target. I printed out their flyer (complete with online interactive checklist and store map), lined up about an hour early, and when the doors opened, I walked through with my list and my cart, got everything I needed and then some, and I was out of the store in twenty-five minutes.

Twenty-five minutes.

I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn. I didn't stand in endless lines. I didn't fight anybody over the last anything. I didn't sit on the edge of a giant potted plant because there was no room to rest my weary feet in the food court.

I got in, I got out, and while people were miserable and crowded and shrieking over empty shelves on Friday, I was home watching Polar Express, drinking cocoa with a healthy splash of Bailey's, and wrapping everything I had bought in that extremely useful twenty-five minutes.

For me (and for others, I'm sure), it's twenty-five minutes that didn't take away from anything. And before you remind me that plenty of you have family and need that quality family time - let's take a poll:

How many of you go to a movie on Thanksgiving night?
How many of you watch football all day instead of talking to your relatives and catching up with them, sans TV?
How many of you cut out early because you have to get up at 4am and line up outside a department store?

"But wait!" You wail. By patronizing those stores on Thanksgiving night, you're forcing those workers to leave their families and lose part of their Thanksgiving. Plenty of them have families that they'd like to enjoy the holiday with!

Probably. But I assure you, as someone who once worked for Wal-Mart on the overnight stock shift, plenty of my coworkers were thrilled to have an opportunity to work for double pay, which is what you get when you work on Thanksgiving Day at most retailers. For a lot of my Wal-Mart coworkers, that extra money meant a little more Christmas for their families.

And what about the workers in the NFL? Or the Macy's parade? Or the movie theaters? Or the gas station you stopped at before you drove home from your family's house? I don't hear anyone screaming about them having to leave their families. I guess football is a more valid excuse to lose time with your loved ones than getting more money in your paycheck for your bills or your kids' Christmas presents.

I sincerely love the meaning and the sentiment of Thanksgiving. I hope that someday, I have someone I can spend it with. If and when I do, I'm sure I won't want to lose a minute of it, and you might or might not see me at a store on Thanksgiving night. It all depends on who I'm sitting next to on the couch and how much pumpkin pie I ate.

Until then, please don't firebomb my car when it pulls into the driveway, loaded up with shopping bags as you're leaving Grandma's house. I'm doing what works for me, and I'm not going to feel guilty about it much. My cats can manage without me for twenty-five minutes.

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