Black Friday doesn't have to mean Bleak Season
As I am writing this, my wife, Sarah, and my mother-in-law are taking advantage of "Black Friday". This seems to have turned into a Thanksgiving holiday tradition for them. For the past few years they have awakened and left the house by 4:00 am to take advantage of all of the pre-Christmas sales. And, they have had a BLAST. They enjoy people watching, enjoy the prices, but most of all they enjoy each other. They vow not to get caught up in fighting for the last toy, haggling over prices, and the general stress, and just go to have fun and look for bargains.
Four in the morning is just too early for me, I need my beauty sleep, but I do recall past enjoyable Christmas shopping with my family. I remember as a child I would make out my Christmas list while looking at the Sears Christmas catalog and then shopping with my family and enjoying the festive displays. In the little town where I grew up, we actually had a multi-floor department store with a real elevator man that would announce "going up" or "going down". I may be getting older, but that was an usual sight even in my day. Later, I recall a shopping experience with my sister, Carol. We were having a snack in the mall, food court when she suddenly looked up and announced "Tim, your getting gray hair". Carol always knows how to make people feel good. Really, though, these are all pleasent memories of shopping with my family.
Although I agree that Christmas has since become extremely commercialized, and many families are forgetting the true meaning of this Holy Season, we don't need to throw the baby out with the bath water (besides it's much too cold for the little guy ). Many people go to the extreme and have nothing to do with shopping but the holiday season can still bring good family experiences. Here are a few ideas that may help turn holiday shopping into a fun family time.
1. Don't neglect the many charities that are out and about during the holiday season. Choose wisely, but let your children see you (or have your children do it themselves) putting change in the charity buckets for the less fortunate.
2. Choose an angel from an angel tree or choose a local family and go out shopping for them. Have your children pick the toys out for the kids. Use it as a teaching opportunity.
3. Instead of focusing on themselves, involve your children in shopping for their siblings. Maybe have them make out the wish lists for their brothers and sisters rather than for themselves.
4. Teach your children patience and politeness (or at least try) while shopping. There is so much pushing, shoving, and grumpiness during the shopping season. A pleasent smile and "thank you" go a long way when you are a tired, weary, sales clerk (I know, I've been one of them).
5. Focus on the religious displays and themes in stores. Yes, some stores, malls and shopping centers still have them. I know that Santa Clause and selfishness are still the chosen themes these days, but there are still some opportunities to discuss the true meaning of Christmas with your young ones.
Enjoy your children while you're out and about this year. Remember the fun times you had when you were younger and don't let this be a bleak shopping season. If you have any ideas on how to make Christmas shopping a more pleasent experience for families, leave a comment or send an email and I will share it in a later post. Merry Christmas!
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