Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel the week of November 27
This year we hosted Thanksgiving. I managed to not burn the vegetables.
Actually, this year I had a hard time getting the corn done. It was a microwave error. My microwave is on its way out and it apparently didn’t like corn, because it wouldn’t even thaw it out.
Our turkey was cooked to perfection, and the new stuffing recipe I used with a few tweaks of my own wasn’t bad.
It has been a few years since I hosted my family for a holiday meal. We always travel to one of our kids’ homes, and who can argue with that, because I don’t have to clean and don’t have to cook. I think the kids got tired of burned vegetables, so they decided it was safer to host and not ask me to bring the vegetables.
In case you haven’t heard the story — I burn vegetables. I don’t like vegetables and watching them cook gets kind of boring in my creative mind, so I always find something else to do while they are cooking and kind of forget about them … until I smell the result. It is a tale my kids have passed down to my grandchildren. I forgot how much work goes into cooking for many people on Thanksgiving. It gave me an appreciation for those moms and dads that cook for their family every day.
Black Friday arrived and I didn’t have any newspapers to check out the ads, so I browsed the coupons I received in the mail. They were very tempting. Many stores gave free money up to $10 that you could use without buying anything else. I know myself — I would have spent more than the $10 certificate.
I am cutting back this year because of a cut back in my finances, so I purged the urge to shop and picked up a good book to read, taking a nap in between some paragraphs.
I don’t get too excited anymore about Black Friday sales or Cyber Monday sales. There is always a sale and unless there is something specific I am looking for, I don’t run out and join the lines since I have reached old age.
I remember before Black Friday was Black Friday. It was always just the Friday after Thanksgiving and I loved to join the shopping crowd. There was something energizing about all the people in the malls and stores. That was before shopper frenzy and shoppers hurting other shoppers trying to grab the golden sale that they wanted. It was a friendly tug of war.
One of the things we did one year with our son and his wife was get up at 4 a.m. to stand outside of Shopko in the lines to get the 6 a.m. specials. The kids had the list and told us what to grab. They then donated all the items to Toys for Tots or other organizations. I didn’t mind getting up early to do that.
A friend of mine always was in line at Dayton’s Department Store to get the Santa bear of the year. She and her daughters made it a tradition each year. After they got their Santa bear they spent the rest of the day together shopping and enjoying the season.
Now Santa bears are no more, and stores open on Thanksgiving, so there is no need to stand in line early in the morning in the cold anticipating the specials.
Of course we also have Cyber Monday, but it seems that is starting early, too, as the emails and ads online are bombarding consumers with the message to buy, buy, buy. It is hard to resist the call of those sparkly items when they come across your computer screen.
I am not in a family of shoppers, so even if I were interested in a shopping family outing I would be hard pressed to find a family member to go with me. My one granddaughter loves to shop, but she also loves to enjoy family time and I suspect she would pick that over shopping any day.
Maybe it is my age or maybe my finances that has brought me to my senses when it comes to shopping. Don’t get me wrong — we need to support our businesses, especially small businesses.
I find I buy more meaningful gifts if I take time and don’t get caught up in the frenzy of the sale. I find shopping is more about who I am with than the actual grabbing of the gold. I know it isn’t the glitzy gift that will be remembered but the time spent sharing and making memories.
The things I remember about Christmas aren’t the gifts I was given but the little things that had meaning during the holidays, such as baking Christmas cookies with my mom or going to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. I remember my mom and dad coming home with a box of gifts from the shoe store where they hid them and the anticipation of those gifts, not the actual gifts but the tradition of Dad coming home with them. I remember sitting down to supper on Christmas Eve and sharing a Polish tradition of wafers with my Polish grandmother and uncle.
Those are the golden gifts that are remembered, and all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales will never make those kind of memories.
“Christmas is not an external event at all, but a piece of one’s home that one carries in one’s heart.” — Freya Stark
Julie Seedorf’s column appears in the Tribune every Monday.