“We just want to experience it,” my daughters were telling me. 

“Are you sure?  You will have to get up quite early.”

“So what?  It’ll be fun!”

I had participated in Black Friday a few times when I was a single mom.  Sometimes I was able to get what I was looking for.  Most times, when the store had a very limited supply, I missed out.  But what I always came home with was a story.  And my kids liked hearing the stories.  There was the very effeminate guy who, on a frigid morning, wore only a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops (showing off his freshly painted toenails).  He lasted for two hours standing in line by jumping up and down to stay warm.  There was the little old lady who kept helping herself to items in other people’s carts.  There were the people who worked in a pack to put as many items in their carts as possible.  Fortunately, I never saw any major fighting, although my sister could tell stories about that!

My daughters and step daughter decided they wanted to experience Black Friday this year.  After being told how early they would have to get up and how cold it would be, they still wanted to go.  I relented and, while we were digesting our Thanksgiving dinner, started perusing the ads in the newspaper to see if there were any good deals.  I finally settled on a mobile DVD system with two screens on sale at Target.  It wasn’t a “must have” item, but since we are planning a road trip for this summer, and neither vehicle has one, I decided that it would be nice to get one for each car.  It gave us something to look for once we got inside the store, but if we didn’t get it we wouldn’t be heartbroken.    

At 3:30 a.m. Friday I made the rounds to all four girls’ rooms and woke them up.  I told them to dress in layers and to be ready to go by 4:00.  There was no complaining.  In fact, they were quite jovial.  We arrived at Target at 4:15 and settled ourselves in line.  There was a steady rain coming down.  We had grabbed the small umbrella out of my car, but it wasn’t big enough for all of us so I told the girls to stay in line while I went back home to get our two big umbrellas.  After I returned it stopped raining, of course.  We closed the umbrellas and continued our wait.  Standing in line wasn’t too bad.  The temperature was comfortable, in spite of the rain.  We laughed and joked with each other, making observations about our fellow shoppers. 

As the time neared for the store to open we saw two men from our neighborhood coming down the line.  We greeted them and found out that they were just coming from Walmart that had opened an hour before Target was scheduled to open.  “What were you after?” I asked.

“We were getting a tv for my son-in-law,” said Darryl.

“I don’t need anything,” said Mark.  “I’m just along for the experience.”

“Yeah,” I said, pointing to my girls.  “They wanted to experience it too.  How quickly did the tvs go?”

Mark smiled and shook his head, “It was hilarious.”

We all laughed and Darryl and Mark continued on their way to the end of the line.  Finally, it was time for the doors to open.  I had done my best to prepare the girls for what they would see once they got inside the store.  “You are going to see grown people running around with a look of total panic on their faces as they try to find the item they are looking for.  There might be pushing and shoving, there might even be some fights.”  Our line filed calmly through the doors and then, like every Black Friday before, people took off running with that look of panic on their faces.  Huh, Mack, and Juju were a few steps in front of me.  I saw them stop, take in the scene before them, and then take off, with the same look of panic as everyone else.  In an instant they were lost in the crowd.

The whole thing struck me as funny and I started laughing.  I couldn’t walk because I was laughing so hard.  Hoob just stood quietly beside me, her eyes as big as saucers as she watched what was going on.  I finally got myself under control enough to walk up to a Target employee.  I held my hands up in the shape of a mini tv screen and said, “Dual DVD players.”

“Behind you,” he said pointing.  Hoob and I walked calmly to the display and each grabbed a box.  The boxes had handles so it made it easy.

“Okay, we got ’em.  Let’s go find your sisters.”

It was too hard walking against the crowd, so we went with the flow until we neared the hardware section where I pulled Hoob down an empty aisle to rest and figure out the best way to get to the check out stand.  We could still see people running everywhere.  We started for the front of the store, looking for empty aisles to make the going easier.  Huh called my cell phone using Juju’s phone.

“Mom, where are you?”

“We’re nearing the electronics department.”

“What?  I can’t hear you?  There’s too many people.”

“Where are you?”  I asked.

“We’re crammed against a wall and can’t move!”

I couldn’t help but laugh (Huh later told me that there were two guys trying to walk past them as she said that into the phone and they laughed at her predicament as well).  I told her to get Mack and Juju and try to get to the check out area because that was where we were heading.  We did finally manage to meet up again.  The girls spotted more neighbors from our neighborhood and went to talk to them while I stood in line to pay for our DVD players.

The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful.  The girls wanted to wander the mall for a little while and then we went to breakfast at Village Inn.  Juju fell asleep in our booth as we were finishing our breakfast.  We returned home tired, full, and with more stories to share with Hub and the boys.  The girls say they enjoyed the experience.  They want to make it a tradition.

I think it will be a fun tradition to continue.  Maybe next year we can talk Hub and the boys into coming with us.