Thanksgiving Is Over, It’s On To Shopping!


Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel the week of November 27

shopping-2016Thanksgiving is over.

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.

Another Reward Card? My Wallet is Full.

Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf published January 27, 2014

My wallet is getting fatter. Unfortunately it isn’t getting fatter with money or even credit cards. It is getting fatter with all those rewards cards that we have to carry to get rewards when we visit a business.

Don’t get me wrong, reward people, I love my rewards cards. I must admit my life was a little simpler when I didn’t reap the rewards of my shopping.

It seems every business is jumping on the rewards-card bandwagon. There are Hy-Vee Gas cards, Panera rewards, Shopko rewards, Cherry Berry rewards, Pizza Ranch rewards, Pet-Co rewards, Office Max rewards; and those are only a few of the many.

There are times when I have to stop and remember where I am when checking out. Yes, I occasionally do forget where I am, in the I need that frenzy of shopping. I get to the register, dump my products onto the little conveyer belt that moves the items closer to the cashier and then I fumble in my purse to find the right card. Of course, while I am fumbling and digging through my billfold I almost and sometimes do, drop it on the floor.

The solution would be to be prepared by digging out my card before I get to the register but what fun would that be? It would not give those shoppers coming behind me the excuse to check their cellphone, talk to the person behind them or glare at me for holding up the line.

Things are made a little simpler when it comes to coupons; we don’t always have to have to the paper coupon anymore. We can store the coupon on our cellphone. Of course, that means that not only do we have to pull our rewards cards out, we have to hold our cellphone and get it to the place on our phone where we have the coupons. The people behind me always love that.

Some stores are making it easier if you are a prepared and organized person. I actually don’t know too many of those. If you are an organized person, you can go to the store’s website and put the store coupon on your rewards card. That does make it simpler.

Let’s add being a senior citizen to the mix. Senior citizens at many places get senior citizen discounts. Some are widely advertised where others are kept under wraps. You have to know what stores have senior citizen discounts and then you have to ask for them when you are at the checkout. You also have to know in many stores, what day they cater to senior citizens. There is also another little catch.

Some chains of stores don’t have the same senior citizen policy in every store. The days differ, and in one case I have found that the liquor store offers a senior citizens discount, but the actual other store connected doesn’t.

I am tired writing this. Being a smart consumer these days is tricky. One day I was shopping with my daughter. A sale of something that I needed didn’t start until two hours later. We were in the store at the wrong time and had to be home in another community before the sale started.

I was disappointed but accepting. My daughter pulls out her cellphone, finds the ad on the phone and calls and finds a clerk in the store. She asks if there is any way we could get the discount early since we couldn’t be there at 3 p.m.

The clerk said they would check and came back and said it was in the system already so they would honor the sale. We should show the clerk the ad and tell them they said it was fine to honor it early. We checked out, and I got the sale price. I would have never thought of that in my old age. Shopping used to be simpler.

That is my point. Life is getting challenging for those of us with an older brain. Shopping now is somewhat of a puzzle that we have to put together to get our perks and our prices. If you have the time — and senior citizens are supposed to have the time — then its fun.

Younger people pick up on this easier, but families with young children don’t have the time. Of course, they don’t have to search out senior citizen discounts, but with their lives on fast forward all of the time, keeping track of all the rewards if they want the perks can be mind-boggling.

I liked it when J.C. Penney cut its prices and did away with sales. Their prices were wonderful, and it was great shopping in the stores. Unfortunately, many consumers didn’t feel that way and J.C. Penney lost money. We are programmed to go for the deal.

I can’t wait to see what the stores think up for us in the future. I am researching the hidden senior citizen discounts in preparation for an article later on to aid seniors in finding their way through the discount maze.

But I should warn you, the last time I was in a maze, a corn maze, I needed to be rescued. If you don’t hear from me during my research you will know I am hopelessly lost under the pile of reward cards. Listen for my call for help and rescue me.

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