The time: 4 a.m.
Where was I? Not in bed, dreaming of the wonderful time I'd had at Thanksgiving. I was in my car, driving along an empty highway toward the mall so I could shop, shop, SHOP! That’s right. I'm one of those crazy people who got up way too early in search of red-hot deals.
As I was driving along the dark, empty road I thought back to the holiday shopping of yesteryear. Things weren't always so nuts, you know. Or maybe you don't know. That’s why I bring you…
BACK IN THE DAY
Holiday Shopping: Deck the Malls with Boughs of Holly, fa la la la…aw, fudge.
As always, things were a bit different when I was young. First of all, we didn’t have the deluge of kiddie commercials we do now. The Disney Channel? Nickelodeon? They didn’t exist. Children’s programming consisted of a few hours each weekday on PBS (no commercials) and Saturday morning cartoons on the ‘Big Three’ networks: ABC, CBS and NBC (commercials!) If you were a kid, your Saturday morning was booked, not with soccer games or Tae Kwon Do practice, but watching cartoons. That’s when we learned about cool stuff like Rock’em Sock’em Robots and Hippity Hops. When Christmas time rolled around, the retail industry took it up a notch. That’s when the Sears Wish Book came out.
cue the singing angels….
Of course, there were regular retail stores, too. I grew up in a town about an hour outside of Chicago. In the early Seventies we didn’t have much, just a down town with a grocery store, furniture store, five and dime, shoe store, clothing store, etc. Our first big box mart didn’t come until later in the decade with the introduction of Kmart, home of the blue light special. As for toy stores, the Toys ‘R Us (known back then by the classy name ‘Bargain Town’) was so far away we never seemed to be able to make the trip (At least that’s what Mom and Dad said. Hmmm....)
Ah, yes -- the mall. In 1973, one opened up ten minutes from our house and our shopping lives were transformed. So many stores in just one place! It was open on Sundays, too, something local businesses had never done. That was the place to shop, particularly during the holidays, and Black Friday was the coolest day. Why?
Stores didn’t open early and there weren’t any bust-down-the door deals, but something fantastical did occur. On that day, every store -- including the mall itself -- unveiled their Christmas decorations. That’s right, no holiday decor until AFTER Thanksgiving. The whole world instantly transformed into a holiday wonderland. Store hours were extended, too. Many stores, including those in the mall, stayed open until 9 p.m. instead of the regular 5 p.m. We could shop whenever we wanted.
Like most girls, as I got older shopping became one of my favorite pastimes, holiday season or not. My dad would slip me five dollars, maybe twenty if I needed a new pair of shoes, then drop me off at the door with my friends. We’d walk around, hit the record store, and check out clothes at the Limited Express and Benneton. Sound kind of familiar?
Despite all the killer deals we have these days, holiday shopping just doesn’t seem to be as fun as it used to be. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom shopping for twenty people instead of a kid shopping for four, or maybe it’s because stores keep pushing the holiday season further and further forward each year. The ads alone are daunting. Whatever the reason, I get a little sadder each year. A little more jaded, too....
Dang! Am I starting to sound depressed. I think I need a little ‘retail therapy’ to perk me back up. Anyone want to go to Kohl’s with me? They’re having a big sale and I have a 30% coupon.
Anyone? ….. Anyone?