With just a few dollars in my purse, and a mountain of bills in my horizon, shopping as a single mom on Black Friday seemed to be a bleak task..but then I was surprised by the gift my Baby really wanted.
Store XYZ had a “huge” sale on toys, and with my Baby’s birthday coming up plus Christmas, I had to check out the Black Friday deals.. but I was NOT shopping in the traditional way: with rabid frenzy, foaming at the mouth as incremental percentages dropped at the bin a crowd is fighting over, purses battling & claw like hands greedily snatching a bargain that last all of 30 seconds then vanishes, while a metallic voice announces another sale at the other end of the store that has the crowd making a mad dash in the other direction, tipping the store on one end, and tearing everything up in their wake like wild fire..
I was shopping as a single mom, on a very limited income, who just wanted to give my kids something nice for the holidays, to let them know how much I love them–how special they are to me. Almost all of my income goes towards the bills or putting gas in the car; it seemed my family had sacrificed so much throughout the year, and I hoped to give just a little back.
When I went into Store XYZ, the supply of toys was very small. Most were cheap knock offs made in foreign countries, and the dust on the shelves said they had been sitting there for awhile. My heart wrenched to realize that even with the sale, I could not afford these toys! In fact, I would be scraping coins from the bottom of my purse, and loose change from the buckets of vending machines just to get the kids a little gift. Yet I was determined to leave the store with something...
The storm in my thoughts was broken by a surprising ray of sunshine–my Baby. Left to wander the store, the Baby decided to play with an entire box of rubber spiders, snakes, lizards & other creepy crawlies. Next, he found an giant soup kettle–which Baby became enamored with, he loves pots n’ pans. Baby dumped all the rubber critters in the soup kettle then put the lid back on. He smiled with pride. I giggled imaging who would open the kettle & find the realistic bugs & lizards inside..they would probably run out of the store screaming😮
Then Baby found his favorite–spoons. Metal spoons made the best sound when used to bang on objects–he especially loves the ear shattering clang of metal spoons hitting pots n pans. The wooden spoons were also interesting, and you can chew on those! Baby was soo happy with those spoons, his eyes lit up and his chubby hands grabbed tightly onto the handles as he looked for opportunities to bang those spoons against anything his spindly arms could reach. The price wasn’t bad either: $2.50 for 4 metal spoons, and 4 wooden spoons. I had to buy those, and why wait for his birthday, NOW was the perfect time to celebrate!
I did find two inexpensive toys and after spending near $10 I was completely broke, and now digging for change to fill my gas tank. So that was my Non Black Friday Shopping..and the bills are piling up as I type.
What I learned is that if you are spending all your time worrying about how to please your children, or shopping yourself into debt, you may be able to provide a nice material present but you are robbing your child of the energy, and creativity you have to offer. The time and attention you give to your children is a gift in itself–children are nourished by our love.
There are plenty of ways to give your child an enjoyable holiday even on a tight budget…to discover what makes your child really happy, and to discover the enchantment of their childhood, you don’t need to drive to a store or mall; you need only to get on the child’s level, drop adult assumptions, and play in the context of their world. For me it was rubber creepy crawlies inside a soup kettle. My Baby was absolutely fascinated by that..he enjoyed taking a few moments to play more than he would if I was gone a whole day shopping, and he was strapped inside a cart, told to be quiet, stop wriggling, behave or else.. If you get to take a day off work for Black Friday (which is a blessing in itself–who can afford to take a day off work!?!), it only makes sense to spend that time with your family & to limit the shopping. What makes the holidays meaningful, and what colors our memories is contained within the circle of our friends and family.
— Lynn Mari, 2012