Today's the day. Black Friday. Many folks were up, dressed and out of the house long before the carrier tossed a copy of The Times on their driveway. Doorbuster sales started as early as 2 a.m. Shopping expeditions have been planned with military precision and some people won't be home again before the sun goes down.
For weeks, my recycle box has been full to overflowing with circulars touting the unbelievable bargains to be had on this, the busiest shopping day of the year. In tiny print, there's almost always a disclaimer about limited quantities. My odds of getting that $250 laptop are about the same as winning Fantasy 5.
Let's take a moment and remember Jdimytai Damour. He was 34, a big guy with the nickname of Jimbo. According to the New York Times, he loved movies, Japanese anime and politics. He was the Valley Stream, NY WalMart employee who was trampled to death in 2008 by frenzied Black Friday shoppers. Let me repeat that. Trampled to death.
Later that same day, two people were shot and killed in an altercation at a Toys R Us in California.
People are dying over wide screen TVs and Legos. It's mind-boggling.
This year, for several reasons, Black Friday held no allure for me.
Our family is Jewish. In 2010, Chanukah starts early, on Dec. 1. Also, our daughter, Molly, who lives in Mississippi, has been home this week for Thanksgiving. We decided to go ahead and celebrate together while she's here. By the time the doorbusters started, most of our presents had been distributed.
My husband and I are both self-employed and these are lean times for entrepreneurs. Our shopping had to involve more creativity than usual. We decided that every gift would be meaningful, not just stacks of random iPhones and Wii sets. We also tried, as much as possible, to patronize local small businesses.
Molly's gift the first night was from the charity auction at Gainesville's Family TIES Diamonds and Denim event. For $40, I landed a pair of hand decorated Nancy Smithson jeans autographed by the legendary Bonnie Raitt. One of the rocker's CDs completed the package. Molly was thrilled.
The next night was sock night. That's the night when everyone gets, you guessed it ... socks.
Then there's software night. My techie husband is in charge of that. We all got new editions of Photoshop.
I was blind-sided by my gift. One afternoon, Molly and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie. Then she wanted to stop for bagels and do a little thrift shopping. I never suspected a thing. I was just thrilled to be out and about with the daughter that I see so seldom.
I returned home to discover that her father and sister had been busy. They'd carted off the dryer that I've been cursing each day for at least two years and replaced it with another. It's a refurbished model, purchased from a North Hall used appliance shop. I'd forgotten what it is like to dry a load of towels in less than a day. Life is good.
Molly gave her brainy sister a silver necklace designed in the shape of the molecular structure of happiness — serotonin. It's the perfect gift for an international baccalaureate student.
In July, Molly will move to North Carolina to begin her dream job as director of education at Winston-Salem's Temple Emanuel. We wanted to give her something to commemorate this first step in her lifelong journey of learning and service.
Aunt Faye's Attic in North Hall had the perfect gift. Folk artist Suzy Sue Smith had created a gorgeous collage from found wood and fabric. It was a Blue Ridge Mountain vista. Off to one side was a well-worn shoe sole that Suzy had scavenged from the shore of Lake Lanier.
To this she added one of Molly's favorite sayings: "Thursday's child has far to go." Molly cried when she saw it.
Tonight, she'll receive her last gift. It's a blue silk tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl, painted in Israel with images of Miriam and Deborah. If you see her today, don't mention it. You'll spoil the surprise.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that not only is today Black Friday, it's also the 54th annual opening day for the Optimist Club Christmas Tree Lot on Brown's Bridge road in front of Gallery Furniture. Buy your tree there and you'll know that your money goes to benefit the kids of Gainesville and Hall County.
So whether you're setting up a tree or lighting a menorah or a Kwanzaa kinara, I hope this season of love, peace and sharing enfuses all of you with it's spirit. From the Glazers, yom tov.
Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and on gainesvilletimes.com.