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Black Fridays and Black Moods

I am not a shopper. As a matter of fact, I hate shopping. It is not that I don’t enjoy giving gifts, it is just that I hate going to the mall. I like looking at the zillions of catalogs that come to my wife, but I try to throw them away before she sees them. I must admit that I even throw away the ones that are dog-eared, indicating things she wants to buy.

My wife is a shopaholic. I even have a Quicken file just for her gift-giving tally. She gives for the both of us. Over the last dozen years, she has done most of her shopping through catalogs. Fortunately for me and our retirement fund, she has not discovered eBay or other on-line stores. The postal services, UPS, and FedEx know her intimately. She loves going to the mall, spending hours upon hours, finding things that others may enjoy.

My wife likes to buy BIG things for the grandchildren, like an electronic basketball game, the arcade type. It ends up being stored in our garage, for me to trip over, and for me to drag out for a half-hour when the kids visit. They are bored with it after that time, and I have to drag it back, and park my car outside because there is no room. Apparently, taking it to their house is not an option.

Our local mall had a huge fire that made national news — and no, I did not have anything to do with it. Even though over half of the stores are still not open, people have been lining up already for the super-sales on Black Friday. They are trying to get one of the limited numbers of big screen televisions for only 9! I guess if your finances are limited, you don’t have a job, and do not have a real life, you could spend your days sitting in a lawn chair outside of Macy’s waiting for the early AM opening on the day after Thanksgiving. I like a bargain as much as the next person, but I am not going to be trampled by a pack of crazy shoppers.

I think birthdays are really the special days, but not someone else’s birthday (like Jesus). If you are a Christian, then why not buy something for the church or for a stranger in the name of your religion? Jesus got gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but I bet Mary and Joseph would have appreciated some diapers or size one outfits. Even swaddling clothes get dirty, you know. I guess I wouldn’t have been a good Wise Man, since I would have brought things a bit more practical for a baby, like a crib!

One of the best Christmases in my memory involved secretly buying all the gifts for a disadvantaged family in our community. I bet that not one of those children complained about their gifts, unlike the experiences I have had in the past when our kids were young. Christmas morning would often be a time of crying since they didn’t get what they wanted, or one of the other kids got something they wanted. Or, the thing they really wanted was already broken by noon.

I also do not really care if someone buys me a gift. As someone who looks like Santa, gift-buying and gift-receiving are not high on my holiday list. Bah, humbug.

People are always giving me wine. I do not drink — never did, never will. I cook with wine, but a bottle of cheap, grocery store wine goes a long way. At Christmas, I get lots of boxes of candy. I eat candy. I should NOT eat candy, so this, too, I try to give away. I get cheese logs. I do not like cheese logs. I will usually get one fruit cake. I do not like fruit cake, and last year’s fruit cake is being used to prop open the door.

I love books, but when other people buy you books, it proves they know nothing about you. One of my kids even got me Richard Nixon’s autobiography one year! That had as much appeal to me as Cooking with Manure. I would accept a gift card for a book store, but I tend to lose them. That is another thing that I do not like: gift cards.

Every year, one of the doctors would give me a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant, in a town that is a one hour drive from my home. By the time I got around to using it, the restaurant went out of business. I have a few massage certificates, too. Apparently our friends must think I am too tense or stressed. I like a good massage, but tend to be selective. One of my massage certificates was for an establishment that was raided by the vice squad. It is too late to use it now.

On Black Friday, I plan on staying home. I don’t have to work that day. We are unlikely to have our remodeled kitchen done by that time, so there is really nothing to cook, no fancy meal to prepare. If it is raining, I can’t barbecue outside. And I am getting damned tired of cooking in the laundry room.

I feel that life experiences are more precious than gifts that we open. For part of their Christmas gift, we are taking two of the older grandchildren to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. I will be one of the crowd, standing (or sitting on the curb), wishing I was home watching it on television. It has not rained on this parade in my memory. Watch what happens this year…

Have a Happy Black Friday.

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