16 November, 2011

Why I Don't "Do" Black Friday

There are 2 holiday traditions that I absolutely dislike: Black Friday and the Day After Christmas Sales. Why? You might ask. Well, let me tell you.

We need to take a little ride in my time machine, back to Black Friday 2004. I was working at a well known craft store and while the Day After Thanksgiving Sales there didn't involve the crushing mobs that you have in stores like Walmart and Toys R Us, it was definitely a stressful 2 days. Sometime during the first day, a co-worker (who had been named for an actress in a rather popular 1980's sitcom, and who's stories tended to be the highlight of my day) came marching up to me with a slightly amused and rather irritated expression, "Three people have run into me with their carts so far today! The next person who does it is gonna get that cart shoved back at them!" I seem to remember laughing, saying something along the lines of "Welcome to Black Friday!" (it was her first holiday season working there) and silently praying that no one else would hit her with their cart because she was the type of little spitfire who might have made good on that threat!

Those two days after Thanksgiving (as well as the first few after Christmas) are insanely busy! Everyone wants what they want to be on sale (for at least half price!) and they want it NOW! And you had better not be in their way because if you are? Well ...... that's how employees get hit with shopping carts. Niceties go out the window, no one has any patience, and what is supposed to be "the most wonderful time on the year" turns into a contest to see who can be the rudest and most inconsiderate while trying to buy their loved ones presents so that it can be the bestest Christmas ever! (I hope you read those last few words in a really obnoxious voice, because that's how I wanted it to sound)

No, I'm not a Scrooge. I love Christmas! Really, I do. It's the insanity leading up to it that I could live without. 

In that store, Christmas came in March. Or, at least, the trees did. The ornaments arrived shortly after, and they all had to be on display by the end of June. Which means that we were putting up trees and connecting lights while wearing tank tops and sandals. There's just something wrong with that. We had 4th of July, Back to School, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decor all out at the same time. I understand that because this was a craft store, at least some of this was necessary, but that didn't make it any less irritating, even some customers made comments about it being to early. The Christmas songs started to be randomly inserted in the playlist on November 1 and starting the Day After Thanksgiving it was all Christmas all the time. That wouldn't have been so bad, except that the Christmas music playlist was only about a 9 song loop! Do you have any idea how many times you will hear the same song during a 7 hour shift? I'll give you a hint: TOO MANY! By the end of day 2, I was ready to take a sledge hammer to the sound system. 

By December 1st, I was ready for Christmas to be over. It's just another money making holiday, no one remembers what it's supposed to be about anyway. The true meaning got lost in all the hustle and bustle and busyness to make everything absolutely perfect. After three years of being on the retail side of Black Friday, I refuse to be another body adding to the chaos and frustration. I will be warm and cozy in my bed while others stand outside in the freezing cold and the blowing snow (unless you happen to live somewhere warm, in which case, scratch that sentence). I want the gifts I give to have meaning (or at least be something I know the person will really like) rather than just something that was on sale. 

I quit the job at the craft store more than 5 yeas ago, and it took until just a few years ago before the joy and the wonder; the true meaning of Christmas started coming back to me. I will not put up Christmas decorations before December 1st. I will not. November is Thanksgiving, December is Christmas. I want Christmas to have meaning, not just be another money making/spending holiday. I want it to be "the most wonderful time of the year," because it is! It's the wonder of a King born in a barn. 

If you want to go shopping next Friday, be my guest! You won't have me in your way in any aisle in any store! But please, treat people (and retail associates, they're people too ya know?) with the kindness, patience and respect that the King who is the Reason for the Season would. After all, it's His birthday celebration we're preparing for. And please for the love of all things Christmas: 

04 November, 2011

The Charmed Life of Alta (Chapter 1)

(Please read this in your best fairy tale voice)

Once upon a time, out in the country, there lived a dog named Alta. When Alta was first brought home from the shelter, as a puppy, his owners brought him inside where it was nice and warm. When he was a little older and bigger, Alta was meant to be a farm dog who lived outside and kept watch over his owners kitties. But, Alta was a very smart little puppy, and he knew that if he wandered out into the road that his owners would yell, "You get back in this house this instant!" and then he would be inside again where it was warm. And so, Alta lived a very cozy life in the house.

In the summer, Alta liked to lay on the kitchen floor in front of the air vent. Since Alta was 1/4 husky, he had lots of fur and it made him hot, so that was a nice cool place to be. Before Alta's owners adopted him, they were told that he was 3/4 lab and only 1/4 husky, and so they assumed that he probably wouldn't have very long fur and wouldn't shed very much. But, oh! Were they ever wrong! Alta's fur grew longer and longer, and, even though it lay flat against his body, it was thick! Alta had such a thick undercoat of fur, that it was nearly impossible to find his skin! And he left his extra fur all over the house. Alta's owners didn't think that was very good. They had a comb that they used for the cats, but that only got off some of Alta's fur. So one day, when the lady of the house came home from shopping in the city, she brought along some new tools. She called them a de-shedding tool and a slicker brush. Alta wasn't sure about this idea, but she insisted, so he sat still like the good little dog he was while she went to work on his fur. 

Soon Alta realized that he liked the new grooming tools. It felt like being scratched all over, and that was nice. The owner worked for at least 20 minutes on Alta's fur, and when she was done, the pile of fur looked like this:

Alta was happy and his owner was pleased that all of this fur would not be coming off in the house. Now Alta gets brushed about once a week and the pile of fur stays about the same size. Alta's owners are glad that more of his fur stays outside now, and not in.

The End.