Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Wow, what a busy weekend. It was nice to have four days off, but I think I was busier those four days than I am during a regular work week! But it was a great kind of busy.

Thursday I drove down to the town where my family all lives, and we met at my sister's for Thanksgiving dinner. (This means the noon meal. Apparently some people think it means the evening meal.) We ate a ton and enjoyed the splendid entertainment provided by Little Girl and Baby Boy. My grandmother came too, so we had four generations present, something to be thankful for in and of itself.

I stayed the entire day, enjoying Little Girl's company, and then went back to my parents' to spend the night.

Friday, I did what I thought was a crazy thing. However, I underestimated the insanity of the human race.

I can vaguely remember going to the mall one year for Black Friday when I was a kid. We were poor, and spending money for us was almost nil, but we had a couple of dollars saved up to do our own Christmas shopping, and we were pretty good at figuring out ways to make that money go as far as possible. But wow, the mall was like a gold mine that day! Every time you entered Lazarus (a department store), you received a scratch-off ticket and could win a prize. We were no dummies. We entered from each different door in the store so we wouldn't be recognized, and got several tickets. We came home with cups, various trinkets, and we each managed to get a big stuffed white "Lazzie Bear" -- for nothing! Sears had their own scratch-off tickets too... for money off a purchase, rather than for prizes. I read the fine print and figured out the the money off did not require a minimum purchase price... mostly we just got "$2 off any purchase" tickets, but I also found a little bin near the toy department of little stuffed Pooh characters for $1.99 each. By the time we had each entered every single door at Sears, we each had the whole collection -- again, for free. So without spending a cent, we made out like bandits and came home with our arms full of toys! So I have fond memories of my one and only Black Friday experience.

As an adult, I avoid crowds like the plague, and have therefore shunned Black Friday shopping. Actually, I take that back... I did go shopping on one other Black Friday. Nine years ago, I flew to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving weekend with a friend, and we went to downtown Chicago on Black Friday. Now that's crazy! :o) But I didn't do that with the intent of actually buying anything -- that was just for the experience and to say I'd done it! And therefore, we had a blast despite the crowds... that was all part of the fun.

But generally, as I said, I avoid crowds, and would rather pay a little bit more for things than to join the masses in the stores on Black Friday. But this particular year, I had three big ticket items on my shopping list: a laptop computer, a large television, and a nice digital camera. Knowing that prices are slashed ridiculously low on Black Friday, I decided it just might be worth it to get up in the middle of the night and fight the crowds to save several hundred dollars. So Thursday evening, I carefully studied the ads and chose Circuit City as my destination. I was very excited to see at the top of their ad that their Black Friday specials were available starting on Thanksgiving Day online, with no shipping charges!

"Who on earth would get up at dark o'clock on Friday morning and drive out in this freezing weather to fight thousands of people when they can sit in their nice warm home, hit a few buttons, and have the items delivered to their home?" I wondered aloud to my mother. "People must be crazy!" And with that, and a few clicks of the mouse, I found myself on Circuit City's website, where not a single one of the items I wished to purchase was available for online purchase. Hmmmm, sounds like false advertising to me -- hmph!

So back to Plan A. I got up at 4:30 Friday morning. The mall is approximately 12 minutes away from my parents' home, and Circuit City was scheduled to open at 5. No getting ready for me, I just threw on some clothes and left, as is. At 4:40, I reached the backup on the interstate -- two miles from the mall exit. But I wasn't worried yet -- after all, the mall has hundreds of stores. Why, most of these people aren't even going to Circuit City.

At 4:55 am, I arrived at Circuit City, circled the parking lot, and quickly discovered that not only were there no parking spots, but even every grassy spot and gravelly spot along the roadside was full of cars. I ended up parking across the street, on the opposite side of another parking lot, a good five minute hike away from the store. Did I mention it was snowing?

I wondered how on earth I was even going to get a television set to the car, but figured I'd worry about that later. After all, once I bought it, it was mine... surely the store would wait while I pulled the car around to the front to pick it up, right?

And then I came to the front of the store. The doors had opened and people were entering. Hundreds of people. All in a line twisting and turning all over the parking lot. At least people were all very courteous. Everyone stood patiently in line, there was no pushing and shoving or trying to skip line. I was pleased, for that was my biggest fear -- getting caught in a pushing crowd and getting hurt.

However, there was not a thing left in the store by the time I got there. The man in front of me in line commented that his wife drove by at 6 pm the night before and there were already people camping out in sleeping bags by the door. The two guys behind me said they came last year at 3 am and there were already 200 people in front of them then. I had to wonder, if they knew this, why did they bother to come at 5 am? Had I known that hundreds of people would be sitting out in the snow for hours before the store even opened, I would never have bothered to crawl out of my warm bed at 4:30 am and attempt this madness. Those people could have frozen to death!! And for what!? To save a couple hundred dollars!?!? INSANE.

At least I realized quickly that the entire venture was pointless, and I turned around and headed for home and bed. The others who didn't get anything were digging frantically through DVDs, filling their arms with them. I had read in the ad the night before that there was a limit of 3 per person, so I feel rather sorry for all these people who were going to stand in a 2 hour line to check out, only to be told that they have to put all but 3 of their DVDs back...

So my big question is, WHY? Why do people do this?? Now that I've experienced it one time, I know better than to go back. My solution isn't, "Oh, I'll go spend the night in a sleeping bag in the snow next year!", my solution is, "Oh, okay, that's pointless, I'll just pay regular price on a normal day and avoid the mess..." Why do other people go out and do this year after year? If you are one of those Black Friday shoppers, please tell me -- WHY??

So, I was home by 5:30 and plopped right back in bed and slept till 9. I then went back to my sister's and spent a fun-filled day with Little Girl. We ventured back out in the late afternoon to take her to Billy Bob's, where she showed off her Skeeball skills. She really was quite good for a five-year-old -- or else my sister and I are just REALLY bad. My sister scored 18,000; I scored 17,000; and Little Girl scored 14,000. After she picked out a couple of junky prizes and had some pizza, we went to my grandmother's house with the plans of letting Little Girl decorate her Christmas tree, but alas, my aunt had already come over that morning and done it.

Saturday, my sister had a rummage sale at church she was taking part in, so Little Girl and I headed to an area science museum, where we had a blast. She is so interested in how things work and in exploring things that she just soaks everything up like a sponge. Our local newsstation also has an area there at the museum where kids can practice being a news anchor and it looks like they're really on tv. I didn't think she'd get this at all, my sister doesn't even watch the news. But I told her to sit at the desk and pretend she was on the news, and off the cuff she spouted off this story about how Santa Claus had gotten stuck on Mistletoe Mountain and was now lost, and rescuers were on their way to find him and save Christmas! I don't know where she comes up with this stuff! It was VERY cute, however, and the rest of the family was quite impressed when they watched the video later. :o)

Saturday evening, Little Girl and I babysat Baby Boy while his parents went to a football game. Boy, is he ever a high-maintenance baby. Cute as can be, though! :o) He's a happy baby and a fun baby, don't get me wrong, but between being allergic to everything under the sun and taking 3 medications by mouth and one topical medication on his entire body, it's some work to take care of him!!

Baby Boy is walking everywhere now, and although he doesn't seem to be saying much yet, he's making a lot of sounds. He loves to listen to music and will tap his foot and clap his hands. His other favorite trick is waving. And he is SO cute when you feed him and he signs "more" between every bite. Little Girl loves him to death and is a wonderful babysitter, keeping him entertained and watching him carefully so he doesn't get hurt. She gives him lots of hugs and kisses too. :o)

Sunday the entire family went to church, as usual, and for dinner afterward. Then Baby Boy's parents went to a basketball game (they are entirely too sports-oriented!) and we got to babysit him again for the afternoon! We attempted to take Christmas pictures of the kids together, first in their Christmas finery, and then in their Christmasy pjs, but it was a lost cause. Little Girl would sit so nice and prim with a beautiful smile on her face, waiting ever so patiently while Baby Boy crawled around all over the place and would not sit still. We would finally get Baby Boy to sit in one place for two minutes and it would be at the exact moment that Little Girl had lost all her patience and was jumping around the room or rolling on the floor showing her underwear. NEVER could we get BOTH children to cooperate at the same time. Sigh... I wouldn't be a studio photographer for anything!!

Sunday evening, Little Girl starred as the Peach Pie in a play at church about Thanksgiving leftovers. She was adorably cute, of course.

So that was my Thanksgiving... full of food, fun, family, and KIDS! :o) Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!