I know, I know.
People should be home with their families. Those poor employees- having to leave their Thanksgiving tables to cater to the greedy mobs. Another sacrificial lamb to the marketing gods.
But sometimes, a mom’s just gotta get out.
I don’t really know what prompted me to do it this year. I don’t really have a lot to buy. There wasn’t a doorbuster deal I needed to snag. Most of my shopping I do online.
But I just felt this motivating drive to get out there and be a part of it this year. Yes, even willing to sacrifice my precious sleep.
I had one friend who I thought might be game for it, and thankfully, my instinct was right. Now, I’m no glutton for punishment. I didn’t want in on the traffic, the lines, or the crowds. I carefully plan all of my outings to avoid all that. But this time, I just wanted to go out without worrying about nap schedules. Or eating schedules. Or making sure the littles in the stroller were content. Or packing snacks and toys and diapers.
No baby gear. Just a purse over my shoulder and two empty hands.
Maybe the appeal was that it was open-ended. Open-ended free time. Sure, I had to be home before my husband and the boys woke up (I knew I wouldn’t make it out that long anyway), but I had a few hours that were leisurely. Unrushed. My own.
I knew I could go shopping on any night after the boys were asleep, but this was an event. This was a ‘thing.’ And these days, I don’t really get to be a part of too many ‘things.’ I just wanted to be a part of a Christmas event that so many people are a part of.
So, trying to capitalize on what I thought would be the most-Christmasy and least-frustrating option, we decided to go to the outlets. This outlet center, instead of a strip-mall, is more of a village, with all different streets and avenues, and a big center square. This center opened at 6pm, so I was hoping it wouldn’t be a midnight rush when we got there and cause a Walmart-type insanity.
Well, the stars aligned. We arrived around 11pm. No traffic. The parking lot was crowded but plenty of spaces if you didn’t mind walking a bit. The weather was chilly but refreshing after being inside the warm stores. There was a festive crowd, but not overwhelming. We did not wait on line for more than 5-10 minutes in any store. The Christmas decorations were already up – lights twinkling, Christmas music blaring, the big center square Christmas tree whose lights were perfectly timed to the music.
Sure, we took advantage of a few sales, but it wasn’t even about that. I could have come home empty-handed and would have been just as content. It was about a relaxing night with a friend. Out of the house. A few hours that were unscheduled and unspoken for.
I hear all the time that, as a mom, it’s important to take care of yourself. I get it. I understand. But logistically, how? This little wonderful life of mine that I love so much can be all-consuming. We don’t have family up here, so all day long, it’s all me.
But in this case, sacrificing sleep and going out in the middle of the night was doing something for myself. It wasn’t about the sales, the stuff, the consumerism. I know Christmas is not about the spending, the gifts, the materialism.
But being out there reminded me of the person I used to be, the person I don’t get to be all the time. I wasn’t a mom or a wife – I mean, I was – I just wasn’t in those roles. I was just a girl doing some shopping with her friend (even if the shopping was for the boys).
And ironically, while the math doesn’t add up – getting to sleep around 3am and up again at 7 – that little break, that loss of sleep, actually gave me a little more energy for the next day – with my husband and with my boys. (That 2 hour nap I took on Friday while my boys were napping didn’t hurt either.)
It’s easy to judge people for Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving. It’s easy to think that maybe they are superficial and materialistic.
But maybe it’s a family who likes to do this as a family, a tradition, a bonding experience. Maybe it’s a single mom who is hurting financially and really wants to provide a nice Christmas for her kids – and these deals are essential. Maybe it’s a dad that is working 2 jobs and this was the only time off he had.
Or maybe, it’s someone like me – a mom who has kids she adores – but who’s just gotta get out sometimes.
Photo Credit: Adams and Associates Architecture