Originally posted Nov. 29, 2008
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 was 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. It went on sale during the wee
hours of 'Black Friday' morning seven years ago, and the
experience left me so dazed and crazed that I swore I'd never do it
I'll never forget that 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.
After 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
Would kiddie-Jeeps engender the same fighting spirit?
Regretting that I'd left my breakfast of '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
hour? In my case it was my love for little Mr. Noah, and
his longing for The Jeep.
For several months he'd been obsessed with getting it.
His chubby fists had to be peeled from the steering wheel
the first time he rode one. A few weeks later, he
spotted the Jeep in a catalogue.
"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 the baffled UPS guy on his merry way, I
suggested to Noah that he talk to Santa about the Jeep - but warned
that it might not fit in his sleigh. Noah was 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. I
laughed 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'd affectionately dubbed his 'little girl,'
resembled the one I'd had when I was little, that I'd been
devastated to lose.
"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 on 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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