Friday, November 26, 2010

Mother-daughter tradition

Jennifer and Mom
By Jennifer Erickson

For most people Thanksgiving is about the Thursday activities. While treasured and important, for the women in my family the real holiday tradition though comes on Friday – Black Friday that is. Yes, we’re one of those people standing outside of Target or Kohl’s in the wee hours. No, I’ve never witnessed a fight or been trampled.

Let me back up though and say it wasn’t always my favorite tradition.

My mom has five sisters and on Black Friday they’d gather together with my Grandma and go hit the stores from well before dawn until well after dark. There are countless family stories that stem from their antics on these shopping days. It wasn’t just about the bargains, but more about the time the women of the family got to spend together.

As a little kid I relished the time with my Dad, Grandpa and uncles who were relegated to kid duty. It’s not like they didn’t show us a good time. We went down to Crown Center in Kansas City and saw movies and played with my countless cousins. But as I grew I wanted to go along with the girls. It bummed me out to see them come home excited from their purchases and not able to go back out for the last round of stores. I yearned for the day that I could go too and be part of the bonding ritual as well.

Fast forward to my late teen years and it became my turn. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly what year I was allowed to tag along, but I particularly remember the years I started going once I hit college. I’d scour the ads with my mom and discuss strategy with my aunts as we passed the turkey and gravy and played with the younger cousins who were relegated to dad-duty on Friday. I see a different side of my aunts when hunting for bargains and it’s the perfect time to catch up on the family stories while waiting in checkout lines.

Perhaps the funniest experience came during one of those college jaunts. My mom and I had started out separately because I wanted to snap up some Old Navy deals while my aunts hit Toys R Us for the hottest toy of the year. That left my mom and me in the parking lot of a now-defunct educational toy store, Zany Brainy. As the line formed I told my mom I’d venture out of the warm car to go stand and received my instruction of whatever the toy was we’d be busting through the door for. Shivering in the frosty, late-November Kansas City weather, I found myself peeking over the should of the mom in front of me trying to find out what in the heck I’d be racing for when the doors opened. The moms in front of my clueless, college-aged self took some pity on me and explained a general description of what it was and even found a photo for me. What they failed to impart was where in the store it would be located or really what it was. Keep in mind I’ve never been to this store and never heard of the toy. So the doors open and the moms-in-the-know scrambled to the appropriate location for their treasures having scouted the layout previously. This left me walking the aisles confused and looking for whatever the silly toy was with them rushing past me. By that point my Mom had wandered in and helped me locate the treasure. Nothing like Mom to the rescue. The memory still gives me a little chuckle remembering my early start into racing for the hot toy a decade before I’d even met my husband or kids were anything even remotely on my radar screen.

These days the shopping trips have become much more low-key. We don’t roll out of bed quite so early – though it’s usually still dark when we enter our first store. And we’re not fighting over toys as most of my cousins are beyond that stage. But it’s nice to know that once my husband and I have kids my mom and my aunts (and who knows maybe even a cousin who has reached the magical shopping age) will have my back. And until then it’s sure nice to get to tag along and have a morning of shopping with my Mom making our own tradition.

Jennifer Erickson is a Sr. PR Specialist for Texas Health Resources.

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