Thanksgiving was okay. I’ve said before, I’m not a big holiday fan. I don’t hate them like some folks do. I just don’t get as hyped about them as other folks do. I guess I’m a holiday moderate. We went out to dinner with my parents, my son, my sister and brother-in-law. I picked the restaurant this time. The past few times my sister has picked a restaurant – buffets, mostly. I chose a smaller restaurant that had a limited menu but still, plenty of choices.
My family arrived just after we did. We were seated immediately in a bright, airy sun room. Everyone found something they liked on the menu – well, except for my brother-in-law. He used to cook for a living and hates eating out because he worries about what’s been done to the food. However, they accommodated his request for scallops and rice pilaf without batting an eye. The food was good and the only complaint anyone had was that they wished the gravy had been “on the side” instead of on top of the meat.
Success! This was the first time in years we have gone out for a holiday and nobody has complained about the food, the atmosphere, the noise, the service . . . what a relief!
After lingering 2 hours over dinner in the restaurant, we left my family and went to visit my husband’s family. His sister usually invites his parents for dinner. But her son, the one who recently married, had asked them to have dinner over there – he and his new wife wanted to host their first holiday. Aww…. Anyway, we got there about 3:30 and got to hear about their meal in detail. My mother-in-law loves to talk food and described every casserole, vegetable and meat served. Apparently she enjoyed the meal!
We greeted my in-laws, our host and his wife, my sister-in-law and her significant other (boy, that’s another whole story!) and her second son. We started to chat about whatever. Our hostess decided to leave to go visit her grandparents (without her new husband). Our host and his brother went upstairs to do something on the computer. My sister-in-law did the dishes and straightened up. What’s wrong with that picture?!
When was the last time you invited people for a holiday, then left them to their own devices. I know my sister-in-law is one of those compulsive people who can’t sit still for more than five minutes at a stretch. But let me tell you, I’d draw the line at cleaning up after my kids left if they had married and moved out.
We got home about 6:30 and the big Black Friday preparations began. Not for my husband, of course. Yes, he had plans, but they didn’t include shopping. His son is home from college and they have a tradition of going to a Boston Bruins game the afternoon after Thanksgiving. Then have have dinner and go to an AHL hockey game. So he’ll be home late. Hope they had fun.
Last night I read every Black Friday ad inserts from the newspaper. I checked the internet. I made notes and lists. I even check them twice – Santa has nothing on me when it comes to organization. The only thing I refused to do was get up at 3 AM and stand in line, waiting for some store to open. Big mistake.
I started off with K-Mart, just a quarter mile from the house. Three pair of boots destined for South Dakota later, I was off to Sturbridge, MA to try to score a free MP3 player with a $20 purchase at Old Navy. Got there about 8 AM – all gone. Darn!! Left without making any purchase – there were better deals to be had elsewhere if I couldn’t have the MP3 player! I went to Linens’n’things in the same plaza next. Picked up a microwavable heat pack for my friend in South Dakota. She’s been having a lot of problems with her neck and, having practiced pain with fibromyalgia for over 40 years, I know the heat will help. Also picked up a couple of those little cast iron skillets that they serve hot baked cookies in at some restaurants, for the newlyweds. Cute, eh? Got $4 off with a coupon, too.
Still in Sturbridge, I stopped in at J C Penney. They had some good sales, but it was still early in my hunting, so I hated to commit too much of my budget yet. I did find a shirt for my “godchild” that was originally $20. My cost: $7.99. I also got my friend a $54 shirt for $22.49! Now that’s a bargain.
I left Sturbridge and headed into Southbridge. I wanted to check out a couple of things at Ocean State Job Lots. What a stuffed store! You know what I mean, things just everywhere. But I was able to find a 3X sized T-shirt and a pair of 2XL workman’s gloves for my friend’s husband in South Dakota. Not bad for $14.
On the road again, my next destination was Auburn, MA. I chose to take the low roads rather than the highway. From Christmases past, I know that the ramp for Exit 9 off Rte I290 backs up all the way to the highway because of a red light across from the Auburn Mall. I came up Rte 12 instead, took a right into the parking lot and found a parking spot right near Sears. No hiking. I think my “parking fairy” must have been working non-stop today. I got great parking spots wherever I went.
Sears was my first goal. I had about an hour and a half to shop before the early bird sales closed. I had my notes, so I knew the departments I wanted to check. But first … where’s the restroom? You can’t shop seriously when you’re distracted. After a brief pit stop, it was off to the Junior’s department. Shopping for teens in South Dakota. I got them (and their mom) sweatshirts (or fleeces, as they’re now called) for $5.99 – regular $20 and gloves for $1.99 – regular $10. I got shirts for everyone that were 55-60% off. Got the husband a heavy, hooded, lined flannel shirt for a steal – $19.98 instead of $42. I even got myself a couple of pairs of sweatpants for hanging around the house in the evening at just $9 – 55% off. That made me smile.
Not that I hadn’t been smiling. I’ve worked in retail at Christmas time and I try really hard to be pleasant. People can sure get cranky trying to find gifts to express their love.
I left Sears feeling a little bit drained. My back was starting to ache. Fibromyalgia was starting to tap me on the shoulder. I gave up my good spot to a woman who was obviously taking her elderly mother shopping. Then I drove across the road and parked in the Bed-Bath-and-Beyond parking lot, which was much less crowded. There I tallied up my spending and made notes on the progress I was making for each person. I had actually accomplished quite a bit, even if I hadn’t gotten all of the items I had hoped for.
Should I keep going or go home for a rest? I wanted to go to Kohl’s at the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley in Millbury, but boy, I was tired. Target and Michael’s Crafts, too. Nope. I let experience and common sense win out this time.
I came home, sorted gifts into a pile for each person and was amazed at the bargains I had found. I was also amazed that I had gotten the girls in South Dakota within half a dollar of each other. It was still before 1 PM and I knew Kohl’s had their “early birds” online, too. I sat down at the computer to finish up my shopping. Their website is slow to navigate on a good day. Today it terrible. I got very frustrated – not good for the fibromyalgia. Then, when I was on my last item and ready to go to checkout, their computers crashed!! Really – I mean, I assume that’s what happened. They disappeared and when I tried to get on again, it kept telling me Kohl’s was not responding and they were sorry for the inconvenience. Oh, swell!!
I could have let it get the better of me, but I refused to stress today. So I said (to myself), “Fine! I’ll go down to the card store and pick up Christmas cards for the family.” The Hallmark store is in the K-Mart Plaza, the one that’s a quarter mile away. Found all the cards I needed without too much trouble, though their “nephew” choices were rather meager. Picked up some penguins for my stepson’s girlfriend as well as a votive candle holder. I had hoped to get a penguin tealight holder (yes, if you’re sensing a theme, she loves penguins) but they weren’t out yet. After I checked out, I went to wish “Happy Holidays” to the woman who manages the store. She and her sister lived upstairs from me when I was a toddler — they’re the ones who started to teach me to read! What did I see when I did? The penguin tealight holders she had just put out. She took my coupon and I left with my purchases and my FREE penguin tealight holder. Total savings here: $17.
When I got back home with my treasures, my son had left for work. I had the house to myself for the rest of the evening. I got back on line but Kohl’s was still “Sorry,” so I went over to Amazon. They have a great website! Easy and quick to navigate. Got everything I wanted there at good prices, no tax and free shipping. The easiest gift was the Amazon gift card for my son. He likes to shop there because he can find movies he can’t find elsewhere.
So far I’ve saved over $250 and I’m still under budget. Talk about needing to stop singing the blues! We’re going to try to finish up as much of the shopping as we can tomorrow, I guess. After the house gets cleaned – my in-laws are coming to dinner on Sunday.
For now, I’m going to starting singing a hymn of praise and put my feet up. Time for Ghost Whisperer and Moonlight. There are some perks that come with having the house to myself – like getting to watch a couple of shows I like instead of all hockey, all the time.