Is that a contradiction? I don't think so. I hear so many people grumpy about Christmas music and items being in stores before Thanksgiving. I'm an early shopper. I like to get it all done preferably before Thanksgiving. Once Thanksgiving hits you've got a month to get everything done, and I'd prefer to spend that time decorating the house and baking cookies. I want my children to have the wonderful holiday experiences that I did when I was younger. Far too many people rush into the over-crowded stores to do holiday shopping and are in anything but a holiday spirit. It makes me wonder how it was for my parents. For their parents...and so on. I'll have to talk to my mother and mother-in-law about that one. What was it like?
I like to think of snowy, peaceful streets and shoppers strolling through stores. Parents baking cookies for excited children. I do tend to romanticize things though. I know my mother and her siblings have long commented on how exact "A Christmas Story" was to their reality!
Today, for most people, marks the beginning to the Christmas season. I know that my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law will most likely be heading out to Bath and Body Works (and various stores throughout the Green Bay area) in search of some great bargains. I have fond memories of going with them (venturing out on Black Friday was something I never would have considered before becoming a part of the Cayemberg family!). There are enough grumpy people out there today, but my Green Bay family are simply shining lights on a knock-down, drag-out shopping day.
I clearly recall sharking through the parking lot for a space at the mall and my SIL Lori rolls down the window in the bitter Wisconsin winter. Hanging half out the passenger window she shouts with an enormous smile and a cheer that I hadn't felt on a Black Friday...ever, "Are you heading back to your car?" The lady smiles back and points to a spot directly in front of us and near the front doors to the department store. Who says the Irish are lucky! Luck of the Belgian/Germans here! On the way out of the department store, Lori flags down the nearest person and tells them where we're pulling out. They bring smiles to people's faces wherever they go.
My father-in-law was always up early and would head out at 3:30 or 4:00am on Black Friday over some deal he saw in the newspaper on Thanksgiving day. He seldom got the item, but he loved the adventure of it. He had the excitement of the holidays.
Whether deals were found or missed, a nice breakfast was had and stories were told. Truthfully I've only been in Green Bay a handful of times on Black Friday, but every time I've been there (well, and any time I'm with my in-laws) shopping is involved. I don't think I've ever caught a truly great deal when I've gone out on Black Friday, but I'm definitely in the Christmas spirit after being out! Could you imagine if everyone could be so kind and cheerful at the beginning of what's supposed to mark such a season?
For those who think Christmas has become too commercialized. You need to remember that Christmas and the holidays aren't what retailers make it. It's what you make of it. And frankly, there is usually something to be purchased because we do something special for the season. Whether it's extra baked goods, a fresh pine tree or presents. What you purchase is up to you. You decide. Not the retailers.
This is a very traditional time of year. Whether you "believe" in Santa visiting all the good boys and girls in a celebration of the birth of Jesus, or whether you prefer to leave Santa out of it. If you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice or any other winter holiday, it's a time steeped in tradition. Have you started your own traditions or are you doing something you learned from your parents? And if you learned it from your parents were they passing it on? Find out. Find out before you can no longer ask.
Maybe people need to look at the Holiday merchandise in the stores in October and the seasonal music playing early as a ramp up for their good attitudes? Get in the Christmas spirit early. After all shouldn't we keep Christmas throughout the year?...before we are visited by three spirits reminding us to ditch the Humbug!
[This was originally posted on "Black Friday" in 2010. I think it's appropriate every year.]