I was annoyed when I heard Christmas music in Old Navy just a week after Halloween. When I walked into CVS to pick up some vitamins and saw all the tinsel, ornaments and chocolate nutcrackers two weeks before Thanksgiving, I was just as irritated. Since when did we go from ghosts and vampires to Santa and Rudolph?
So when I saw that Nordstrom was putting the Bah-Humbug on pre-Thanksgiving sales and hype, I was very pleased. I found it to be a show of respect to its patrons to allow us all to enjoy our Thanksgiving holiday before bombarding us with the ring of sleigh bells.
The sign the department store posted was simply written: “At Nordstrom, we won’t be decking our halls until Friday, Nov. 27. Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.”
With Thanksgiving early this year, this message was not only a noble gesture, but a stress reliever as well. For all that the Black Friday hype does for me it make me spin.
At this time each year, my family has no focus on Christmas. We haven’t been going through toy catalogues, watching commercials with any desires or chatting up Santa, so come Black Friday each year, I have no idea what my kids are spying for Christmas. I get nervous, worrying that I am missing some unknown deal – that I might be the mom who didn’t fight for the last Cabbage Patch doll or Tickle Me Elmo. I am frustrated at this point, as I am still up to my ears in pecan and apple pies – nowhere near candy canes and hot cocoa.
I find the catalogues, coupons, commercials and newspaper ads make me super antsy but my frustration with the hype keeps me home. I have yet to take that Friday to slug it out with another tightly wound mother of three over a Gap sweater for $19.99. Nope, you won’t catch me standing in line for 45 minutes to use my Kohl’s bucks to buy smelly candles or in a sleeping bag at Best Buy waiting for the doors to open so I can push my way through the edgy crowd to grab a $200 laptop. You won’t see me at Bed, Bath and Beyond buying a Snuggie and a Magic Bullet blender just because I can get 20 percent off of everything!!!!
Instead, on Black Friday, you will find me at a coastal Christmas tree farm chopping down my family’s Christmas tree, enjoying great food and fresh air, basking in good friends and tradition.
But oddly, something about Cyber Monday got me this year. Perhaps it’s the kick-off of anxiety prompted by Black Friday. Or because technology affords me the comfort of a cozy, warm house with a cup of tea beside my laptop as I surf retail sites while watching television long after my kids have gone to sleep.
On Sunday night, on the eve of Cyber Monday, I was sucked in, despite my personal requirement to take a more organized approach to Christmas shopping this year.
I was perusing Facebook during a commercial break of a show when I saw a friend’s post that threw me in a tizzy. It simply read, “Waiting for American Girl Cyber Monday Sale to start. They are on Central Time so I've only got a few more minutes.”
A few more minutes – ahhh!!! That was all I needed. My Black Friday and Cyber Monday frustrations blew out the window, I had become a huge hypocrite within seconds, all focus on taking advantage of a deal. My daughter got an American Girl doll for Christmas last year, so she’d certainly benefit from some new duds and accessories for Rosy…
I went online with fire in my fingertips, feverishly pressing ‘add to cart’ on any item I thought Ashley would want. The whole time I was more concerned with adding it to my bag than deliberating if Ashley would actually like it. I racked up a steep cart of more than $200 with nearly 15 items. I was so excited – Ashley would have every American Girl doll book and craft kit, matching Molly pajamas, Emma’s floral sundress, a hot-pink striped beret, riding boots for her little Rosy… Waahhaaahhhaaaa!
I was nearing online check out, bursting with pride in my efficiency at cyber shopping. I called in the reinforcement, beckoning my husband to bring me his Visa. He came into our dim-lit bedroom, the light of only my iPhone and the intermittent glow of our television illuminating up the room. With a big smile, I showed him the bulk of my order. He threw the Visa next to me with a half-hearted toss.
I accusingly asked him what was wrong and all he said was, “You know Ashley hasn’t played with her doll in months, do you really think she’ll want all this?”
He caught me just in time. I paused a second and realized he was right. Rosy had been seated in the same position of Ashley’s baby crib, dressed in the jammies she was changed into back in late July, one doggie slipper missing from her left foot.
Consumerism, it appears, had taken me on a wild ride on the eve of Cyber Monday. It took a good 30 minutes of my life and left me with nothing. I hit Update Cart, removing all 15 sweet deals that some other mother could hoard for her American Doll-obsessed daughter.
The buildup, the excitement, the publicity grabbed me for a brief moment, zapping my reasoning and increasing my blood pressure.
The whole experience brought about some goodness though. We spent after school on Cyber Monday creating old-school Christmas lists for Santa – another tradition I hope we will begin to love as much as our Christmas tree chop.