I truly hate malls and at Christmas I will not step foot in one for any reason whatsoever, and you will NEVER catch me getting up at 4 a.m. to stand in line outside some store's doors.

I do ALL of my holiday shopping online these days - most of it at my own Gift Stores (links below!) . Let's face it, why should I waste gas driving to a mall, deal with finding a parking place, shove through crowds of rude and/or slightly insane bargain hunters to grab some so-called "deal" of a piece of imported, mass produced crap? Then after I shell out my hard earned cash for that crap I still have to box it up and schlep it to the Post Office, wasting even more gas, and stand in a line to mail it out!

Holiday Shopping in this day and age has become an unpleasant, stress filled miserable experience, not at all like the Christmas shopping I remember from my youth. Once upon a time the shopping experience was almost as much fun as the exchange of the actual gifts! My family looked forward to the Holiday shopping almost as much as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was a family outing, much like getting the Christmas tree. Our whole Thanksgiving weekend was like what they call a "staycation" these days.

Thursday, of course, was the big food day where we watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on television as the wondrous smells of turkey, baking pies and home made rolls wafted through the house. We ate our dinner early in the afternoons so poor Mom was always up before dawn in the kitchen cooking away most of the day. She would come out to enjoy a bit of the parade during moments of cooking hiatus. Later the sounds of football games filled the air as we helped Mom clean up. The rest of Thanksgiving Day was pretty much spent in a Turkey coma - pumpkin and minced pies were served during the Holiday specials on TV. Charlie Brown and Burl Ives will always make me think of pumpkin pie.

Friday was NOT our shopping day, it was the day we went out as a family, bought our tree then came home to decorate it. (There were no deals on that Friday. In those days the stores weren't living in fear of bankruptcy, there were no sales until after Christmas and the Friday after Thanksgiving was the start of retail profitability!) I think this was my Mom's favorite day of the weekend, she truly loved our Christmas Trees. She insisted on the same kind of tree each year, a Douglas Fir. She wanted that smell that only a real live tree brought to the holiday season. We would play Christmas music during the trimming of the tree and every year Mom would yell at Butthead and me for throwing big clumps of the aluminum tinsel at the tree! Mom wanted that tinsel draped strand by strand, lol. We had turkey sandwiches, home made cookies and enjoyed the experience of unpacking the traditional ornaments we hadn't seen in a year. Then when it got dark we all piled in the car and drove around looking at the Christmas lights on all the houses in town.

SATURDAY was the big shopping day in our family. The whole family would get dressed up and off we would drive Uptown to the Shopping District. All the department stores had wonderful window displays with animated Santas, Elves, Model trains running in and around Christmas trees, tons of beautifully wrapped boxes or maybe a Nativity scene or a tableau of a family opening presents. Does anyone else remember those wonderful window displays? This was my favorite part of the holiday and I looked forward to those every year.

Mom and Dad did another little shopping trip later in the week to procure the toys and gifts we had excitedly pointed out or asked Santa for, but this Saturday was our traditional "shopping day" complete with lunch out at a fancy restaurant!
We split off in groups in order to buy presents for each other in appropriate secrecy then meet back up for a cup of cocoa or some treat. This was also the day we got to sit on Santa's lap and whisper in his ear what we wanted for Christmas. It was a happy day of family, laughter and love.

Yes, Virginia, once upon a time Christmas Shopping was a Wonderland filled with sugar plum fairies and ho-ho-hos and not a Black Friday of Scroogism and corporate avarice. It was a time of giving to friends and family, sharing and magic that somehow got lost in the stampede of greed. In today's world Santa's naughty list is larger than his nice, Rudolph is now a celebrity spokesman for brand of sports clothing, the Elves are doing movies in Hollywood and the North Pole is in foreclosure.

So maybe you'll all forgive me if the idea of getting up before the crack of dawn, dealing with mall parking, getting pushed, shoved and maybe even trampled to death by the hoard crazed humanity for the sake of 80% off an item that was marked up 200% just doesn't quite seem like Christmas to me. I have opted out of the insanity. I would rather sit home, stay warm and cozy, click my mouse a few times and be done with it because Christmas shopping has become a chore and not a joy anymore. Ho Ho Ho even has a new meaning now.

Where did the term BLACK FRIDAY come from?

In shopping lingo the term Black Friday is the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red to being in the black financially. It originated somewhere in the early 1960s, during a time when stores kept normal business hours. Some say the name Black Friday was coined by the Philly Police Department in 1966 as a negative term for the traffic jams and mobs of people crowding the sidewalks.

Black Friday (aka the Fisk/Gould scandal) was also the name given to September 24, 1869 when two gold speculators tried to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange and caused a financial panic in the United States.

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