One year of Black Friday shopping in this lifetime is enough for me

Here it is creeping up on mid-December and I haven’t done a lick of Christmas shopping. This weekend and the next are going to be busy ones in the Daugherty household. My goal, as it has been for many years, is to purchase as many gifts as possible at local retailers.

It’s sometimes tempting to seek out the deep discounts offered by online vendors this time of year, and I probably won’t find everything on my list in the independent brick-and-mortar shops, but I’m fairly confident I can come darned close to it (see Editorial, page 4).

A few years ago, when I was on maternity leave, I did the 4 a.m. Black Friday thing with a couple of my cousins who brave the lines and the crowds every year. I’d never experienced anything like it, and out of curiosity I joined their party.

We hit up four of the big-box stores in town, including Walmart, where I saw hordes of people standing around an unopened pallet, waiting for an employee to open the wrapping, thus revealing its contents. I watched from a safe distance, figuring it must be something really awesome. When the shrink wrap came undone, people began a furious scramble to grab one of the boxes (picture flailing arms). To my surprise, their prize was a cheapie made-in-China waffle maker. I think it was marked down to $5—evidently the price at which a waffle maker seems a necessity.

I ended up buying a couple of things: a toy for my then-newborn son and a small Shop-Vac for my husband. Now I know what I’m missing when I sleep through the day-after-Thanksgiving madness. I’ve no desire to do it again.

Of course, this year, many of those big boxes opened their doors on the evening of the holiday. I didn’t go for that, either.

Update: Somebody who enjoyed Allan Stellar’s essay about spending the night on Mount Harkness in Lassen Volcanic National Park during the government shutdown sent a small donation in care of the CN&R to help defray the $250 fine Stellar incurred for breaking a closure order and camping in a restricted area.

That reader, a woman named Carol, is from Redlands, a community just east of San Bernardino, in sunny Southern California. Because the donation came via snail mail, I don’t know how she came upon the story. Could be she’s a regular reader. Could be she’s a big fan of late environmentalist Edward Abbey—the inspiration for Stellar’s initial attempt to camp legally at the site, and then his further inspiration for his act of civil disobedience once the shutdown went into effect.

Either way, thanks to the almighty World Wide Web, Stellar’s story has traveled far beyond the confines of the North State. And thanks to Carol’s generosity, there’s a dent in the fee he has to pony up. If anyone else is so inspired to help the cause, donations can be made in care of the CN&R, 353 E. Second St., Chico, CA 95928.

Melissa Daugherty is editor of the CN&R