Originally posted Nov. 27, 2007
I can't believe I did it. I swore I'd never succumb to the
insane shopping frenzy that commences before dawn the day after
Thanksgiving. I'd been a snob, thinking myself too evolved to
fall victim to the materialism that plagues us. Not buying
that? Okay, so the truth is that even the lure of deep
discounts couldn't stir my type B self from my slumber that
But then I had children, and one of them wanted a Jeep Power
Wheels 4 x 4 for Christmas. And it went on sale during the
wee hours of 'Black Friday' morning.
That was six years ago, and the experience left me so dazed and
crazed that I swore I'd never do it again. Sure thing.
I'll never forget my first time. Instead of going back to
bed after nursing Baby Holly at 4 a.m., I stumbled out the door,
pausing only to brush my teeth.
I was psyched. I figured that in 20 minutes I'd have secured
my son's happiness Christmas morning and that in 30 I'd be back
under the covers where I belonged. My cozy visions and
confidence evaporated when I got to Wal-Mart and discovered that
the parking lot was jam-packed.
Snagging one of the last spots, I joined the other early-birds
(mostly women) in a line that stretched from the store's entrance
clear to the back of the lot. Clutching circulars and
shopping lists, veteran shoppers huddled in the chilly air and
plotted their strategies with their fellow bargain-hunters. I
became nervous when the couple in front of me recalled a catfight
over Barbie's they witnessed the previous year.
Would kiddie-Jeeps engender the same fighting spirit?
Regretting that I'd left my breakfast power-muffins in the car
(I'm not much of a shopper to begin with - I'll take all the help I
can get), I considered the wisdom of escaping unscathed and with my
dignity intact. But then the line of shoppers began to surge
forward toward the opening doors. The crowd began to hum, and
I actually found myself getting excited, almost giddy with
anticipation. I started to giggle and said a quiet "Ladies,
start your engines!" when I heard the odd drone of dozens of
shopping carts making their way across the cold pavement.
What possessed so many to shop for deals at such an obscene
In my case it was my love for little Mr. Noah, and his longing for
For several months he'd been obsessed with getting it. His
hands had to be peeled from the steering wheel the first time he
rode one. A few weeks later, he spotted the Jeep in a
"I need it NOW!" I NEED it! I NEEEEEED it!" he implored, his
little three-year-old arms outstretched. You get the
idea. It wasn't pretty. During this episode a UPS truck
happened to pull up in front of our house.
"It's here! My truck is here!" Noah exclaimed, a pure
example of the power of magical thinking. He nearly knocked
the UPS driver off his feet.
After sending a baffled UPS guy on his merry way, I suggested to
Noah that he talk to Santa about the Jeep - but warned him that it
might not fit in his sleigh. Noah has never been one to be
deterred, though, even at three.
"I'm going to Santa Land now, Mommy. Would you get some
shoes on?" He pleaded, retrieving my shoes from my
bedroom. "Would you do it?" He continued, causing me to
laugh so hard I cried.
Aside from fretting about the cost of the Jeep, I wondered:
would indulging my son in an over-the-top gift cause him to miss
the point that Christmas is the Spirit of loving and giving in our
hearts, as my Mom always says?
A few days later I mentioned to Noah that his white stuffed
kitten, which he affectionately dubbed his 'little girl,' resembled
the one I'd had when I was little, that I'd been devastated to
"You can have mine, Mommy, for the cat you lost when you were a
little girl," he offered. Ah, but he had the Spirit,
So was I tough enough to get the job done that cold, sleepless
morn? There was no way a few Barbie-wielding women were
gonna get in my way. Let's just say I also had to wrestle the
girls for a helmet …
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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