Black Friday in my family is synonymous to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all other holidays that we celebrate. Well, at least for us girls. For as long as I can remember, my mom and I have ventured out early Friday morning to scope out the season’s best gifts and incredible sales. Over the years we have conducted our “holiday” in Watertown (SD), Bloomington (MN), Eden Prairie (MN), and Sioux Falls (SD); which, up until recently, was our “go-to” spot. Every year started out the same, get up and leave home by 7:00AM to make the 80 mile drive to Sioux Falls, where our first stop would be Kohl’s. One year, my mom took a record-breaking (jaw-dropping?) FOUR hours in Kohl’s alone. Granted, a good share of the time is spent standing in line. But we don’t mind that, it is part of the ever-growing tradition as we get to the experience the holiday spirit with the fellow shoppers around us.
The event started with my mom and myself, but some years my grandma, an aunt, or a bit regrettably, my brother and dad have joined in. Finally, my sister, being 11, has now begun to anticipate the day as much as we do. She has tagged along for the past seven years or so, becoming my partner in crime in the quest to find the perfect gifts for our brother, parents, and extended family.
This year will be the third year that my mom and my sister have come to stay with me in Fargo and completed our day’s adventures among the throng of fellow shoppers at Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, and the Mall. Once October rolls around, mom and I begin to scope out the leaked ads online and prepare a list of items we are hoping to pick up. Once Wednesday rolls around, I drive the three hours to southwestern Minnesota to visit my family and have Thanksgiving lunch. Come Thanksgiving afternoon, I turn around, with mom and sister in tow, and drive the three hours back to Fargo/Moorhead. We analyze who needs what, where our first stop will be, and often what restaurant will refuel us for lunch… and supper… on Black Friday.
We still manage to get up and be at our first destination by 7:30-8:00AM, but with the deals beginning as soon as 8pm on Thanksgiving, we have had to tweak our plans the last couple of years. This year, you will find us at the 52nd Ave Walmart at 8:00PM on Thursday and Target around 9:00. Friday morning, we will be at Kohl’s, mostly looking to restock our own closets for the upcoming winter. Lunch typically follows at Olive Garden, where we get some warm soup, carbs, and caffeine to make it through the next 6-8 hours of miscellaneous stops. Saturday we venture to downtown, where we support the local businesses by purchasing the more unique and appreciated gifts. After grabbing a quick lunch, it is usually time to say our goodbyes until I head back home for the “other” holiday we call Christmas.
Some people call us three Hansen women crazy for doing what we do every year. Now, we have never been the so-called “die-hards” who camp out in a tent at Best Buy. Typically, it’s not about the super deals we may encounter, but the overall experience of having us three girls together for one full day of uninterrupted holiday cheer, bonding time, and a bit of shopping. The memories I have over the years are completely immeasurable. We often reflect on the time the three of us had a “wild hair” to go to Sioux Falls Thursday night, only to watch from our hotel room as shoppers bombarded the doors of the nearby Toy’s R’ Us at the strike of midnight. I have memories of my sister, maybe around the age of six, slipping in a few dollar bills into every red Salvation Army bucket we saw that year. And don’t even get me started on the year that all five of us (yes, brother and dad included), decided to drive up to Bloomington, MN to experience Black Friday at the Mall of America. Even as a teenager, I knew that was going to be a one-time opportunity… and it was. Now, after years of trial and error, we know the rules to follow (no boys!), the “go-to” stores, and how to manage a front-row parking spot.
If you are not a shopper or hate big crowds, trust me when I say that you should add Black Friday to your bucket list. Wake up, bundle up, and head over to Target or West Acres. Drop some spare change in the Salvation Army bucket on your way in, find a warm, comfortable seat, and just observe. You will witness peer pandemonium, but you will also witness the complete joy of families and friends spending time together. The holiday music will lift your spirits, and you may be taken-aback by the amount of politeness that surprisingly exists on this day. Or you may simply observe me, accompanied by some of the most important people in my life, as we hum Christmas tunes and make purchases for our loved ones. One thing I can promise you is that we shoppers will already be discussing our tactics for the next holiday season; and I don’t mean next month’s Christmas festivities… but next year’s Black Friday.