Happy Hal…Oh-It’s-Over

You don't want to go shopping, You want to sit with me.
You don’t want to go shopping, You want to sit with me.

Yeah, yeah, the kids will be out in full costumed force tonight, but by the time you venture back into Target, Wal*Mart, Sears or wherever it is you shop, it will be Christmas. If it isn’t already Christmas. Lest you think I left Home Depot off the list, I didn’t, they’re just ahead of the curve. I guess they don’t really sell much Trick-or-Treat stuff so, Christmas trees and decorations. Lights, lots of lights.

 

“Buying them is so much easier than untangling them!”

I think I wound these correctly
I think I wound these correctly

I was in Home Depot last week. I needed to buy some burlap. We use it to wrap things that the birds would otherwise make a mess on. Things that have to stay outside for the winter, like the hose cart and the iron bench near my wife’s Maddie’s patio. We might also use it to wrap a recently-transplanted bush. In any case, it’s the kind of stuff a person might buy in October because they might need to use it in October. Home Depot had some, but I couldn’t get to it. The aisle was blocked with stacks of boxes and pallets of stuff they will be selling on Black Friday.

Stores do this at this time of year. They stockpile stuff they’re planning to practically give away in a month, and if it impedes you from shopping today, so be it.

Last year, I needed a snow shovel. Yes, I’m one of those people who buys snow shovels before it snows. We also buy batteries, water and bread before it snows. Call us crazy, but that’s how we roll. Anyway, the snow shovel I wanted was one I had bought before at Home Depot. It’s a plastic job that can be used on Trex – no metal on Trex – and I wanted a second one for the back stairs. I saw a large bundle of them on the shelf at Home Depot.

I asked for help getting one down. Big mistake:

Oh, those aren’t for sale.”

Huh?

Those are for Black Friday. We can’t sell any until then.”

So, you can’t sell me one snow shovel, at full retail price today, because you’re saving it to sell at cost, a month from now?

I just work here.”

I should have just cut one lose and put it in my cart. I could just see the headlines:

Man arrested for attempting to buy snow shovel at Home Depot.”

‘Cuz that makes sense.

Home Depot loses some of my money each year when they do this. As soon as I see those pallets in the aisle, I start avoiding the store. Every time I avoid the big box, I am reminded of how much simpler shopping in a smaller local store can be. First, I can go door-to-shop-to-door in less time than I can drive to Home Depot. Second, I know where everything is, and guess what, it’s where it was the last time. Some of the big boxes like to move things around. A lot!

I do look forward to Christmas. It is perhaps the most meaningful holiday in my life. I also enjoy the general spirit around the holiday season. However, as I get older, I enjoy shopping less and less. I enjoy the commercial nature of the holidays, less and less…and less. By the time Christmas gets here, I’ll be listening to CDs in my car as a way to avoid the “popular” Christmas carols. I’ll be watching my favorite actors portray Ebenezer Scrooge, because I bought the DVDs long ago, or I recorded them during their analytics-driven-perfect-time-slot, and I’ll be actively seeking ways to avoid stepping in a store. The sooner they put up the decorations, the sooner I’m putting them on the naughty list.

The only store I can think to put on the good list is REI. Last year, REI decided to close their stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving and encourage their customer to go hiking instead. The program is called Opt Outside, and at last count, almost 700,000 people are participating. Our daughter is one of them, and we’ll spend some money at REI this season, if when she tells us what she wants.

I don’t think I’ll be hiking over that weekend but I won’t be shopping. I may be watching some football, and eating some leftovers. If the temperature is mild enough, I may spend some time in my workshop. Hopefully, I will have given some though to the things in my life I am thankful for, and hopefully I’ll remember the reasons we celebrate these holidays.

62 thoughts on “Happy Hal…Oh-It’s-Over

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  1. Can I second this post? :-) I am so mature I can remember when the Christmas decorations came out the day after Thanksgiving and not the middle of October. I have been in HD a couple of times this month and could hardly believe it. For a minute I thought I was in the Christmas Tree Shop where one expects it as soon as labor day is over. These days a family has to work very hard to maintain the true meaning of this wonderful holiday season amidst the retail frenzy to get your money. Applause to REI. :-)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Judy, With your second and a few votes, maybe we can table this topic for a month. When I have to fight my way through pre-black-friday-staging to buy an actual seasonal item, something has gone wrong. My mother worked for a large department store in Pittsburgh when I was little. She took us in to see the decorations on the day after Thanksgiving several times. It was special, not common, not everywhere and not in October.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with you on the entire Black Friday and Christmas shopping experience. I avoid the mall (about a half mile away from home) like the plague during the holidays. I’m no longer a fan of shopping with the masses, so I will stick to the smaller stores and shopping on line.

    Happy Halloween, Dan! I hope you get your shovel before it snows.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. I bought my shovel from the local guy. Actually, I bought two, because they don’t hold up like the metal ones. “Trex, the building material that keeps on costing you more.” If I do go to the mall, I go to the small one in a nearby town and I go on Monday or Tuesday after work. The place is usually dead about that time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah and they blitz right past Thanksgiving like it’s not a holiday. Went in Saturday to pick up some last minute Thanksgiving stuff and only a couple of packages of themed napkins on the shelves. Everything else is gone…and it’s not even November yet! and don’t get me started on needing sweaters or heaters in Jan when the swimsuits come out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A couple of years ago, I tore a favorite sweater in January. It’s basically like you’re out of luck for a year when that happens. My secret hope is that retail gets so far ahead of itself that they are actually selling the stuff yo want to buy, when you want to buy it.

      You’re right about Thanksgiving. It’s like it’s just an anchor point for Black Friday.

      Like

  4. It’s all just party, party, party over there, isn’t it? Halloween is growing here – the shops love an excuse to sell stuff – but I’m like the Halloween version of the Grinch. One year, I put a sign on our door that said “We are Australian. We do not celebrate Halloween. Do Not Knock.” I think we scared away all the neighbourhood kids because they’ve never been back.

    I’m glad you got your shovel. We don’t have Black Fridays here unless you count the bushfire in 1939. Weird concept really.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for a good idea – maybe I’ll try adding a sign that says we’re from Australia :)

      Black Friday started used to just be the ceremonial start of the holiday shopping season. It was supposed to be the point in the year when retailers were finally making a profit (in the black). Now, it’s this crazy-mega-stab-your-neighbor-in-the-back fight to get a large screen TV for next to nothing. Some retailers have even pushed it back (or forward) into Thanksgiving evening. It’s just nuts.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We haven’t had Trick or Treaters for years now. My neighborhood is kind of old and two houses that have kids drive down the road to another neighborhood where their kids friends live….Bussing for candy….gotta love it. Happy Halloween, Dan. BOO!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No need for the Boo, Lois – you scared me with the clown – :)

      We get very few kids at our door. Not enough to make it worth the dog being crazy. We don’t have many kids on the street anymore, so I guess that drives down the appeal.

      Like

    1. Thanks. I should have included the five photos of that leaf with Maddie’s head in the way, or the photo of her standing on the leaf I wanted to photograph. “Retail stupid” is a great way to sum up the next few weeks – I like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. … And people can’t understand why I hate shopping. I make in-person trips to the rather small grocery story down the block from my office (only for a few things at a time — the things that I can’t get delivered). Otherwise, if it doesn’t come to my door, I do without. I hate shopping.
    I’ve been seeing online Christmas ads since JUNE (the past few years). I’m not exaggerating when I say it nauseates me.
    Good luck re the snow shovel… Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Teagan. We shop at a smaller grocery store, the smallest one around. People talk about the mega-store, but it’s so big and it takes so long to get in and out. I don’t need 400 kinds of chips to choose from.

      I’ve got my shovel. I’m ready for winter.

      Christmas ads online are already driving me crazy. June? Ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to take my mother, before the whole Black Friday thing became a crazy-person-thing. She likes to shop, and it got her out of the house for a day. I did shop the year we lived in NYC, but that was in the 70s, when you had to make sure you were out of town before dark, at which point your bags might have well said “Mug Me!”

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  7. Dan, you hit a nerve with the tangled up Christmas lights. Every year it becomes my nemesis. Untangling the lights is a nightmare and last year I just went out and bought new ones. Now the thought of having to untangle the new ones is not one I easily entertain. By the way, that shot of the leaf with the drops of water on it, is superb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Don. I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who suffers with those lights. Them and extension cords. I wind them up, and then they self-tangle as I cut the ties free. I had to buy new ones last year because I cut the wire while cutting the ties :(

      I’m glad I included the leaf. It wasn’t relevant to the post, but I really liked it. I’m glad you liked it too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Last year, REI decided to close their stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving and encourage their customer to go hiking instead.

    Talk about putting their customers first!

    There is a term for that… it is called “Good business”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! It’s an old-fashioned approach to business, but I think it could make a comeback. With almost 700,000 people participating, I’m sure it works for them too. That’s good and smart (and I like doing business with good and smart people).

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love that REI opts-out! I’m opting out with them again this year. I haven’t gone shopping in a mall or box store for Black Friday or the holidays in years. I detest the hunt for a parking place, the traffic around the malls, the long queues in the stores, and crabby people who are stressed out doing their Holiday shopping.

    I do all my shopping online.

    I may still be in a Food Coma on Black Friday and be at home with the family, but I won’t be anywhere near a mall or shopping area!

    Happy Halloween!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I remember when that Friday was reserved for sleeping late, having leftover pie for breakfast and turkey sandwiches for lunch. I’ll be up late on Thursday, since the Steelers are playing the late game. The pie might not survive until breakfast :)

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Unfortunately your Black Friday has been gradually spilling over across the border here. Every year more and more retailers are jumping on the bandwagon and putting stuff on sale for American Thanksgiving. It just feels weird because our Thanksgiving is in October.
    When I was younger I’d line up for Boxing Day deals (Dec 26th), but as I get older I find I just don’t NEED stuff the way I used to.
    Here’s to hoping you won’t need to use those shovels too much this winter :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry Norm. Of all the things we could export, I wish it wasn’t our approach to retail. Of course, the way we’re going, we’ll probably move our Thanksgiving to match yours so we have more time for sales. Holiday Savings Time.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. One word …. Lowes. I was just in there the other day and still not much of Christmas evident. These stores are ridiculous and even though really not funny I laughed out loud about your shovel story. Where is common sense these days? And who in their RIGHT minds would shop on Black Friday? OMG! Never have I nor will I ever! I avoid stores like the plague and try to my shopping as early as possible or online. I may not even do the gift thing this year *gasp* because I always take second seat to what others give my mother. I think I am sticking to plants from Jackson and Perkins. I used to make crafts, beautiful crafts each year for in-laws and family but when I overheard a remark “here is another one for the attic” I stopped completely, just shocked that people would prefer store bought gifts over a handmade gift. Anyways ….. totally loved your gallery. Laughed out loud at the pumpkin on the mailbox. And of course love the one of Maddie who shares/hogs your wife’s patio. LOL Great post, Dan!!! :) <3

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Amy. The people who don’t like crafts probably would buy something similar from Pier 1 and think it was special.

      Lowes is even farther away, and I’ve had my issues with them. Not as many personally, but a huge one for work. Still, there are only so many places to shop…sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are only so many *good* places to shop. I know what you mean. Truly sorry to hear about your issues, Dan. That’s a bummer. And thanks for the empathy regarding my crafts. I’ve stopped a long time ago trying to please people who have no idea the time and effort that goes into making something by hand. Their loss.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I so agree with you about rushing from one holiday to another. This morning my local Target was taking all Halloween things down and already a couple of aisles were filled with Christmas decorations. I saw a frazzled family trying to grab a few items, obviously for a kid’s last minute costume. I felt bad because there is no reason to not find Halloweeen decorations and costumes at 9 a.m. on Halloween Day.
    Love REI and the idea for Black Friday is really my kind of jam.
    And the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, is also a favorite time of mine.
    Enjoy, Dan!

    Like

    1. Thanks Evelyne. I actually liked when the early part of November was kind of quiet. That’s when I was born. I also miss Thanksgiving being a full-fledged holiday. Now it seems like a place holder. Have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Grrrr……try living with holiday ambivolence with four sons and six grandchildren….ahhh for the good old days. Seriously. On Black Friday I’ll be breathing mountain air, with-or without- wifi and hopefully photographing some magnificent exotic birds and butterflies. Oh and we will definitely be hiking…up the road to get meals. I’ll keep you posted. Wouldn’t sell you a shovel. Humphhh.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. In some ways I believe India has the advantage because we are celebrating throughout the year so the stock is always good. A few changes here and there, but decorations, lights, fireworks and other stuff is available all year. Plus, we never have to worry much about the weather except for monsoon when you need to stock your refrigerator with extra food for some unexpected flood situation. No Black Friday sales, no nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I want to first say, Mom and I love Maddie girl. She is so sweet and glad she has her own deck/patio.
    The holidays don’t upset me in stores already, but nonsense like not selling you a shovel DOES, Dan!
    I may not know whether or not they would sell you a shovel but I like Lowe’s better than Home Depot. We bought most of our kitchen and downstairs bar and rec room “stuff” there.
    I have a bag of salt and a plastic shovel in my trunk. It comes in handy as well as extra boots and mittens, scarf and hat. Never know when you may be stranded. . . ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. I tend to like Lowes better, but they are harder to get to around here, and I had an awful experience with them when buying a refrigerator for our office. I do try to avoid the big-box stores whenever I can.

      By the way, Maddie took over the patio we built for my wife on Mother’s Day. We now refer to it as the “Maddie Paddie” She just loves to sit and watch the world.

      Like

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