person holding phone in front of store with black friday sale signs in the windows

Black Friday in the Age of the Internet

I really do love all holidays, but there’s something about the holidays that come at the end of the year that just makes them feel more special. I’ve always loved Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Halloween is my dad’s birthday, so we always have a fun party. Christmas is the best for a plethora of reasons. Thanksgiving is all about family and food, and it leads into the most exciting shopping day of the year: Black Friday. This Black Friday was a bit of a return to our old traditions since dad had COVID last year, however there’s no way that I can deny that things have changed dramatically from Black Fridays of yore.

Thanksgiving in my house was, of course, still an all-day affair, with my parents getting up at 4 am to prep the turkey (after my mom prepped everything else the day before), then all of us cleaning the house, setting up the table, drinking mimosas, and guessing which of my family members will argue and storm out during dinner. Then, once everyone arrived, we enjoyed our delicious three-course meal, after which dad and I went around to all of my cousins asking them for Christmas lists in preparation for Black Friday.

While Black Friday may not be a big deal for some (or may be a day to lock yourself indoors and away from crazy shoppers for others), my dad and I go shopping every year. Shopping has always been one of the main bonding experiences for me and my dad, so we can’t turn down an opportunity for an all-day spree. Not only do we go shopping, but we go all-out. We hit up the King of Prussia Mall.

For those of you who are not familiar, KOP is the largest mall in the United States by retail space. So basically, we take the largest shopping day of the year, and we make it 20 times worse by going to what has the potential to be one of the most crowded places in the country. We treat Black Friday like our own personal Super Bowl. We’re in the big leagues now.

As shopping is my favorite sport, I train all year for Black Friday by buying copious amounts of things that I don’t need so that I’m prepared.

Not to brag, but at this point, I think I could be an expert in buying copious amounts of things I don’t need.

Since last Black Friday was during the height of the pandemic (not to mention that my dad had COVID on Black Friday last year), we couldn’t do our normal Black Friday traditions. This year was a return to form for us, but it really made us reflect on how we used to do Black Friday and how we did it this year.

Gathering Christmas Lists

Black Fridays of Yore

List gathering on Thanksgiving night used to consist of several hours of nudging and offering up pens and paper to write things down, which often ended with my dad and I having one completed list from one cousin, several cousins promising to send them to us later, and at least one person shrugging and going “I don’t know.” 

Great! Because if there’s one thing that I wanted to do on Black Friday, it’s to wander around a crowded mall guessing at Christmas presents that are just going to be returned anyway!

Black Fridays of THE FUTUREEEE

Now, list gathering couldn’t be easier. My cousins sent everyone editable shared lists so that we can remove things as we buy them and they update as people buy things. We received these lists within two hours of asking for them. Completed Christmas lists in two hours. I had so much more time on Thanksgiving night not harassing my cousins about their lists that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself! Thank goodness Animal Crossing has Thanksgiving festivities to dive into.

Waking Up and Getting to the Mall

Black Fridays of Yore

Thanksgiving night before we went to bed, we used to have an age-old Black Friday tradition where my dad would jokingly say that he’s going to wake me up at 6am to make it to the mall and I would jokingly respond that I’m going to put him in a home. We have fun.

But as dad and I aged, we became less and less hardcore. Years ago, we’d be up at the crack of dawn and ready to shop. Then for a few years, dad would get up and out early to get the doorbusters while I slept in.

Maybe when I was young, spry, and full of hope I was able to get up early to go shopping, but now that I’m older and wiser, my fun only comes in the “doesn’t interfere with my sleep” variety.

Black Fridays of THE FUTUREEEE

This year, dad had some work to do in the morning so we agreed that we would try to leave the house by 12:30 pm. No setting alarms, no rush to get to those doorbusters, just two people haggard with age who want to go shopping on the biggest shopping day of the year at their own leisurely pace. Since we were leaving so late, we decided to go straight for lunch first. The mall would still be there once our bellies were full!

Shopping (Until We Drop?)

Black Fridays of Yore

After hitting those doorbusters we woke up so early for, we mostly just stuck to the lists that we did have and hoped for the best. If we weren’t shopping for others, we were shopping for things for me that dad could buy and sell to other relatives to wrap and give to me for Christmas. Once we started getting hungry, we would do what I like to call the “just one more present” dance. We say that we’re going to get lunch soon, but still feel determined to get just one more present before we break. But one more present doesn’t stay one more present for long, because usually after we get that one more present, we see another store we want to go into and it’s on our way out of the mall near the restaurant, so why not just stop there real quick?

After several “just one more present” dances, when the hanger was really starting to set in, we finally broke for lunch. While Thanksgiving dinner is great, Black Friday lunch really gives it a run for its money. There’s nothing like the food that you get when you’re rip-someone’s-head-off-while-simultaneously-sobbing hangry! Reinvigorated by food, we’d set out once again to tackle those lists.

Black Fridays of THE FUTUREEEE

Now, instead of waiting for that “just one more present” dance to have lunch, we just went straight to lunch. After ordering our meals, we sat and looked at the lists that we had and realized that it would just be easier to use the links included on the lists and get everything online. My dad and I completed all of the holiday shopping we wanted to get done in 45 minutes on our phones in the lunch booth. That was it. There were all the gifts. We looked at each other, shrugged, and said “Well, I guess we should still go to the mall.”

Ending the Evening

Black Fridays of Yore

Back in the before times when we were young and carefree, dad and I would legitimately shop until we dropped. We would hit those doorbusters at 8 am then leave the mall at 8 pm or later. Of course, in that time, there would be several trips out to the car to drop off bags so that we didn’t have to carry them all. One time, we stayed at the mall so late, we had to exit very far from our car and walk around the entire mall to get back to it.

On our way out of the mall, we would check our lists and closing times for the stores around the mall. What time does Best Buy close? How about Toys ‘R’ Us or Target? Would they have that last toy we needed? There were several years where we would head out to another store after the mall to see if we could tackle the rest of those lists before getting home. If there wasn’t a store by the mall still open, we’d check stores closer to home.

Jeez, just typing all of that is making me exhausted…

Black Fridays of THE FUTUREEEE

This year, we wandered aimlessly around the mall, going only into stores we personally wanted to shop in. Since I have so much clothing, I pretty much no longer get things for myself that dad can sell to relatives (just give me coffee gift cards, people! That is where literally all of my money goes anyway!). So dad and I barely did any shopping. Mom called us at 6 to see when we would head home, to which we shrugged at each other and said “I guess we’ll leave within an hour.”

Then, like we do, we proceeded to take an inappropriate photo with the mall Santa before heading out:

renata and her dad sitting with a mall santa pretending to grab his chest

As we walked out of the mall, I joked about the fact that in our past life, we’d be racing to Toys ‘R’ Us or Target, trying to get there before they closed to get that perfect gift. But alas, now we are old and home by 8 to enjoy some Thanksgiving leftovers.

While Black Friday may not be the extreme shopping extravaganza it once was, it’s still a great day to spend time with my dad and harass a mall Santa!

11 thoughts on “Black Friday in the Age of the Internet

  1. I’ve told this one a million times (so there’s a decent chance I’ve done it somewhere you could see it), but my mother was once talking about shopping 13 hours on Black Friday. When I asked how she could do that, she started explaining which store she started at and so forth, but I interrupted her to say, “No … how DO you shop for 13 hours?”

    She doesn’t do it anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been a hardcore Black Friday shopper. My first ever experience of Black Friday shopping was when I was in high school. My boyfriend at the time and I decided we were going to go to Walmart for a good deal on a Garmin GPS (does this statement age me!?). We woke up at 5am, got to the store at 5:30, the ‘deal’ started at 6, saw the line for just that product, went to the front of the line, asked for the GPS at that very moment, paid full price for it and went home.

    Now my Black Fridays are typically spent with Mom at the local Big Lots shopping for Christmas decorations. I even wrote about one of our outings a few years ago:
    …probably one of my favorite stories I’ve written on my blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Yes, I understand the impulse. We’ve never found the appeal of waiting in those long lines for doorbusters, so we pretty much always just started at the mall. One year, they were giving out Macy’s gift cards to anyone who walked through any Macy’s entrance for the first (however long) so my dad went to the mall and went through every different Macy’s entrance and came home with a bunch of gift cards before I woke up 🤣

      That was too cute! That’s such a great memory with your mom that you’ll always be able to cherish ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As usual I truly enjoyed our time together. Yes it was different but it was much less stressful and it was great to shop at Bonobos for myself without feeling I was neglecting others.

    It was also cool (and a bit sad) to be able to get a pic with Santa without waiting in a line at all. Great day with my favorite daughter 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s