Black Friday Makes Me Sad

My husband and I were talking about this yesterday.  When we were young, the day after Thanksgiving was “the busiest shopping day of the year”.  The newspaper, television news, and other publications would call it that.  I don’t ever recall hearing the term “Black Friday”.    About ten years ago, I began hearing people call it that, but it wasn’t a term in the mainstream.  Stores still had “After Thanksgiving” sales.  People still enjoyed their turkey on Thanksgiving Day and headed out to the malls after enjoying breakfast and sleeping in on Friday.  Well, those days are over.

Yesterday, my newspaper weighed twice as much as it has all year.  I had to dig and dig through all the sale ads to find a section that actually had news in it.  Today when I logged onto Facebook, I read status after status of people who left their homes last night after doing dishes to hit sales at 9 PM; others who headed out at midnight, and more who left their cozy beds at 4 AM to head out to buy, buy, buy.

What has happened to us?  How much “stuff” do we need so desperately that we are depriving ourselves of family time, sleep, and enjoying life?  I don’t know about anybody else, but standing in line for 45 minutes to save $20 – $30 on a Nerf toy, Wii game, and EZ bake oven, just doesn’t seem like a way I want to spend my long weekend.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know the economy is in a slump and people do need to watch their wallets.  But from my observations, people at the holidays seem to forget their budgets (if they even had them), which frankly, is probably the whole reason stores have these sales now.

At the risk of sounding like Charlie Brown,  Christmas and Hanukkah have gone too commercial.  (I’m allowed to say both because my mother is Catholic and my father is Jewish; I’ve celebrated both.)  Stores are putting out Christmas displays in October.  People have their lights up before Thanksgiving. Newspapers are 10 pounds because they’re filled with store ads.  Television ads are showing people shopping and shopping (and these ads start before Thanksgiving, too!) The subliminal message……..SPEND! SPEND! SPEND! BUY! BUY! BUY!  THINGS AND MATERIAL POSSESSIONS ARE WHAT THE HOLIDAYS ARE ALL ABOUT!  It’s such a sad, sad comment on our society.

In a world where morals and faith have already fallen to the bottom of so many people’s priority list (or off that list altogether), do we really need a 48 hour period confirming that the only way to show people you love them at the holidays is to stand in line for an hour and buy them as many presents as your cart can hold?  (Forget about what you can afford – that’s what credit cards are for!!!!)

**On a side note — while writing this blog, my mother just called me.  She was attempting to buy a toy for my son from ToysRUs.com this morning, and it is out of stock.  To help  her out, I tried logging on to Walmart.om and I cannot even get on their site!  So now, not only must you stand in line at stores, you can’t even get on the stores websites.  I am sick to my stomach.**

Anyway, my plan for Black Friday is as follows:  straighten up my house, maybe go out to lunch with my husband and kids (I’m dying for peppermint-chocolate chip shake from Chick-Fil-A!), possibly go to ONE store in the mall for a few small items for co-workers, do a little shopping at Barnes & Noble (not necessarily a Black Friday hot spot), and spend the rest of the day with my family.  Call me crazy, but I have a Christmas budget, and skipping the Black Friday sales isn’t going to make one bit of difference to my list.

Happy Black Friday everyone!

The “Seinfeld” Post

We are HUGE Seinfeld fans in this household.   The show about NOTHING.  The early episodes always started with Jerry’s act and him musing about some mundane observation that he couldn’t quite wrap his mind around.  This post will be one of those.  In the words or Jerry “What is the deal with………..”

  • the new trend of people buying/selling clothing at home parties.  I’m not quite getting the concept here.  Is this for shut-ins?  From what I’ve seen of these lines, they are somewhat pricey and not exactly what you see people wearing around the house.  Again, I apologize if I’m offending, but the purpose of my blog is for my thoughts and opinions.  Just sayin’………
  • checking in at every location on the planet on Facebook.  I just don’t feel the need to let 300 people  know that I am picking up a green tea Frappuccino at Starbucks.  And I’m pretty sure that they don’t really care either.
  • 10-year-olds being allowed to go to midnight showings of teenage vampire movies on a school night.  In my humble (and often unwanted) opinion, this is just baffling and wrong on so many levels.  (Hey, it’s my blog and I can say what I want!)  Number one, the content is pretty mature.  Number two, um, it’s a MIDNIGHT show on a school night!  Is there something wrong with waiting 18 extra hours to see the movie?
  • people who use Facebook for the sole purpose of sharing what they just bought, what they are/have/will be eating (with photos), and how amazing their spouses/children/boyfriend/girlfriend are.  I know – “So just hide those people, Jen!”  I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.  A friend of mine posted a status once that I stole “May your life be as wonderful as you say it is on Facebook”.  I got so many “Likes” and comments on that status, so I know I’m not alone!
  • people who have had Christmas decorations up since November 1st.  Next year, I’m putting up my Halloween decorations on the first day of school.

So there you have my latest rant Jerry-style.  Just a bunch of nothing.  Guess I’ll go grab a bowl of cereal at Monk’s……………….

Kaleidoscope

I am so physically tired right now, I barely have the energy to write.  I don’t know what it has been about this week, but I feel like I have narcolepsy.  If those Five Hour Energy drinks didn’t taste so gross, I’d be at Sam’s Club picking up a case this week.  Maybe it’s the time change from last week……….I feel like I haven’t slept in a month.

Anyway, onto the blog.   I selected a novel this year for my fifth graders called “The Summer of the Swans” by Betsy Byars.  It’s about a 14 year old girl named Sara who is depressed, has low self-esteem, and is going through the growing pains of becoming a teenager.  Sara has a younger brother named Charlie who had an “illness” as a little boy and cannot speak, uses a wristwatch’s ticking to comfort himself, and has trouble falling asleep at night.  (Sound like any disorder we know?)  The words “autistic” or “autism” are never used in the story – likely because the book was published in 1970 when those words were barely part of our language, but to any mom of a child on the spectrum, Charlie’s behaviors are all too familiar.  Sara takes Charlie to a lake (they live in West Virginia) to see a family of swans, and Charlie is fascinated.  One night, Charlie thinks he sees one of the swans outside his window, and decides to follow it.   He leaves his house in the middle of the night, and is lost for days.  He is reunited with his family in the end, but it is still heartwrenching.  Each time we read about Charlie in class, I see Michael (I give up on this whole “M” and “C” thing………..I’m quite sure only my friends are reading this).  Just that image of Michael in that story has changed my whole attitude with him these days.  My patience has grown, I’m more affectionate with him, and I am seeing a lot of difference in him, too.  I wonder if this has rubbed off on him.  In the story “The Summer of the Swans”, Sara compares her life to a kaleidoscope……..all the pieces of her life, like the colored stones inside, are the same, yet somehow everything for her has changed – like the designs do – and she feels unhappy.  My kaleidoscope’s stones have turned, too, but the design I see is making me smile.  Let’s hope it stays still ………..at least for a little while.

Seesaw……

I remember as a kid, the seesaw at the playground was so much fun.  When we take M to the park for his special-needs running team, it’s the first thing he goes for.  Why are seesaws so much fun, but the metaphorical ones we experience as adults SOOOO difficult?!?  

Today was one of those days where the ups and downs have completely drained me.  The day didn’t start out too well……..sometimes the stresses at home just do me in.  I get so tired of picking up socks, washing clothes, looking at miniature cars in every crack, crevice, and corner of my house, rushing in the morning because I stayed up too late watching Law and Order: SVU……..  This morning, I just snapped and ended up in a bad mood all the way to work.  When I arrived at work, one of my co-workers really, albeit inadvertently, cheered me up by asking me about “Glee” (another one of my favorite shows, although this season has, in a word, STUNK).    Want to put me in a better mood?  Ask me about TV or movies………one of my favorite co-workers cannot get over my wealth of useless entertainment trivia.  But I digress………  Later on in the morning, I received an e-mail from a good friend letting me know that she had scored four tickets the Jimmy Buffett concert in January (my first Buffett concert – YAY!).  I love having something to look forward to when the holiday rush is over.  So I got a few hours on the “up” end of the seesaw today.

But what goes up must come down……..ugh.  Yes, I love my job; I am so grateful to have a teaching job right now.  I have no complaints……………but nothing is perfect.  And sometimes the stuff OUTSIDE the classroom is the stuff that is tough to swallow.    (READ: First Friday of the month + Catholic school = monthly faculty meeting.)   But honestly, having those special co-workers with whom you can vent, laugh, and occasionally drink wine with in the evening, makes it all bearable. Trust me – tonight had ALL of that! Teaching is one of those professions where you NEED that.  

One of my friends and fellow autism mommies posted a question on her Facebook page regarding a new medication she’s trying for her child.  I noticed that another friend of hers commented with something to the effect of “We don’t believe in medication for our child.  Diet and a private school have been miracles for us.” Seriously?  Did you really have to waste precious keystrokes JUST to make someone else who is struggling with her child feel WORSE?  I sent my friend a private message commenting on this person’s statement and immediately my phone rang with her on the other end.  We got a great therapeutic laugh out of that.  

Now I sit her wrapping up my evening, watching my squeaky clean children ready for bed in their snuggly pajamas and thankful that their dad took over “shower duty” tonight.  Time to jump off the seesaw onto solid ground…………at least for a few hours!