Sometime tonight my husband and I will make the trip home to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. After a day of gorging and a quick night’s sleep, I will join the thousands of people lining up outside of some store by 4 a.m.


Sometime tonight my husband and I will make the trip home to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. After a day of gorging and a quick night’s sleep, I will join the thousands of people lining up outside of some store by 4 a.m.

Crazy, you say? Most of my friends and family would agree with you. But my mom, my three sisters and I have been doing this for as long as I can remember.

I am the second oldest of eight children. Being thrifty was a full-time job for my mother who fed and clothed a large family on a mechanic’s salary. Four o’clock in the morning is nothing new for her. She used to say the morning was her peace and quiet time. That is, when she was not going to four different grocery stores, all before 6 a.m., just to shop the sales and use her clipped coupons.

I remember when she would look at the dinner she had cooked and proudly announce that the whole dinner had only cost about $3 to make. That’s about 30 cents per person.

She used to shop the day after Thanksgiving as a way to take advantage of the best deals for Christmas gifts. According to her, Black Friday was not always quite so … black.

Stores used to open at 6 a.m. every year, not 4 a.m. or midnight. People did not line up or feel the need to use their elbows to accomplish their shopping objectives.

About 10 to 15 years ago, when I was just 10 years old, things started to change. As electronics became more and more popular and expensive, people started looking for discounts on some of the most expensive items: computers, televisions, gaming systems and digital cameras. Stores like Best Buy, who had never opened their doors early the day after Thanksgiving, became the stores with the hottest deals and the longest lines.

My mom, my sisters and I experienced these changes and did not get discouraged. Instead, we found the shopping was even more fun and gave us a lot more to laugh about over breakfast after all the shopping was done. “Did you see that old lady body check the woman in the fur coat to grab the $5 food processor?”

I cannot claim to be an innocent bystander in all this madness. As young girls, my sisters and I took advantage of the “cute factor” and did our share of cutting in line, hoping people would not want to yell at children. We were wrong, of course; people did not hesitate to yell at us. But, what a rush of adrenaline it was to run out from behind a car in the parking lot to sneak into the store about a mile ahead of the people at the end of the line the moment the store manager opened the doors. Hey, I was only a little kid.

Thankfully, neither my sisters nor I, nor my mother, is now in a position where a discounted TV or blender will make or break us financially. But this Friday, we will continue our tradition. Not because we’re materialistic or think shopping is so important, but because it always ends up being a very entertaining morning for all of us to spend together. As we all get older and move away, this time together is becoming more and more important to us. 

And, although she is still a little young, I am looking forward to the day when my newly adopted sister, Kailey, who will turn 1 year old Dec. 8, will be old enough to join us in the craziness of Black Friday.