It's 9:30 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and I just received a text from a young man in Wichita, Kansas that I hardly ever talk to that read, "So did you go out early this morning and catch the deals? I can imagine you had fun with your sisters? Isn't that your tradition?" My answer would have to be yes, yes, and yes!
Our annual Friday extravaganza has become quite popular amongst our small circle of acquaintances.
This past year at a home schooling convention my sister attended, she came across Dr. Jeff Voegtlin from Fairhaven Baptist. She ask him if he knew who she was, to which he responded, "Oh, I know you, you are Travis Burke's sister. I know you from his Black Friday blogs!" (of course she attended the college there as well, but her time there must not have been to memorable).
Throughout the night, I received over 100 texts or tweets asking for updates and stories from the night. It was a new adventure to integrate Twitter this year as we gallivanted across South West Ohio.
So, here I am, on Friday morning, reminiscing about the past 16 hours...here we go...
We met this year at my parent's house at 6:15 p.m. Chrystal met us there because she would have to take our sister Rachel and her son to the doctor Friday morning early, and her house is much farther away. Sadly, this early morning appointment kept Rachel from joining us this year, but for the second consecutive year, my beautiful wife joined us! (I think because she knew we wouldn't be out as late). So, with smiles on our faces, we bundled up and headed out!
Now, one may ask, why do we do this? The simple answer for us is, "Family Tradition." We weren't after any 'big ticket item.' We could care less what position we had in line. We just go to be with each other and enjoy one of the greatest, funnest nights of our year.
So, keeping with tradition, our first stop was White Castle! This again, would come back to haunt us, and those immediately behind us in line. After ordering some steamy sliders and iced teas, we headed off towards our first destination...Toys R Us.
Now this year, the stores opened up even earlier (which I was not a big fan of). Toys R Us would open at 9 p.m. We arrived around 7 p.m. Most gloriously, there was an open parking place near the front! I didn't expect such an ideal parking spot to be open and nearly passed it up. Quickly, I put the car in reverse and headed back to the spot. Unfortunately, there was an SUV backing out in my blind spot to my left. After a few screams and some quick brakes, we found ourselves unscratched. The man in the SUV exited his car and "Wished me a Merry Christmas." We then made our way to the line, which was by now half way around the building.
Soon, we found ourselves in our fist line of the night. It was cold, but not as cold as previous years. I was dressed in my jeans and a warm sweat shirt with a hood (I hate the term 'hoodie' and refuse to use it), Stacey was dressed warmly, as was Chrystal. Chrystal though, didn't wear a jacket, but instead a black cloak. Her purse was the style that could also be worn as a backpack (coincidentally, a 10 year old girl in line in front of us, Rachel, had the same purse) When Chrystal put her cloak on, her back pack made quite the 'hump' on her back. The three of us eerily resembled characters of one Victor Hugo. I would could have been archdeacon Claude Frollo, Stacey the beautiful La Esmerelda, and Chrystal the hunch back Quasimodo. I only wish there was audio I could share of Chrystal's many failed attempts to sound like Quasimodo (at least her interpretation of it). Needless to say, all around us were in tears laughing.
Chrystal then turned her back to us as the line took a few steps forward. Now between her black cloak, black sweat shirt with a hood, black skirt, and black gloves...well...let's just say Stacey said, "Chrystal, you look like a black jelly bean!" The folks around us loved it and for the remainder of our time in line, addressed Chrystal as "Jelly Bean." She then tightened the hood of her sweat shirt with a hood, which gripped tightly her head. Now with the cloak, 'hump' from the kids back pack purse, and hood, someone suggested she looked like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Chrystal quickly took the name Donatello for no apparent reason and she was yet another character. She then did her best TMNT impersonation (which her being a ninja is, well, you can imagine). But her being compared to characters was not yet over.
Stacey then added a new character when she said, "Actually, with your cloak, you look more like Ursula from Little Mermaid." Now, I didn't really see this comparison (Something about the cloak's threads looking like tentacles and well, the rest...), but the funniest thing was Chrystal trying to impersonate Ursula. She sort of danced and waived her arms and head as if under water, with a scowl on her face. Oh how I wish I had a picture of that! Our feet were hurting from standing in line, but the night was so much fun!
From somewhere, Chrystal pulled out a bright green blow pop and began licking and sucking it. The little girl in front of us, Rachel, was eyeing Chrystal. Chrystal then took the salivated over sucker out of her mouth and pushed it to the face of little Rachel. She then began interviewing Rachel about Black Friday using the blow pop as a microphone. Rachel kept taking steps backwards and eventually stood behind her grandma staring wide eyed at the crazy hunchbacked lady, turtle, tentacled..."Jelly Bean" she said. "You do look like a Jelly Bean!" From that point on, Chrystal had a friend. Together they sang and joked with each other for the remainder of our time in line. However, "Rachel" was not Chrystal's last person to be interviewed with the green sucker. We stood shivering together when we noticed a man walking towards the back of the line dressed in a short sleeve shirt and bright red shorts. Chrystal commented, "Why on earth would someone wear shorts to stand in the freezing cold?" I knew exactly how to find out. I encouraged her to go ask him! With interviewing sucker/microphone in hand, she headed straight towards him. "Welcome to Toys R Us. Can I ask you a simple question? Why did you decide to wear shorts on this cold November night?" To the which he replied, "Hi! My name is Michael Taylor, and I am never cold." He quickly moved on, but to this very moment, I am certain we met at least one liar last night!
Speaking of Chrystal's new friends, we all made a new friend in the lady behind us. Her name is April (actually, it's April Angel-she loves her name). April had thoroughly enjoyed being with us in line. We had shared stories of past Black Fridays with her, she helped make fun-I mean designate Chrystal as different characters, and couldn't believe how much she laughed and how quickly time passed. She even, in line, found and added Chrystal as her 'friend' on facebook. In all seriousness, pray for April as we invited her to church and shared a witness with her. April couldn't believe how much fun you could have and "not be bad." April at times said she was about to 'wet' herself from laughing so much. Before we knew it, it was five till nine and the doors were about to open.
April stopped us and said, "Guys, I just want to thank you for giving me the best night ever." She paused, we all were silent...for an awkwardly long time...she was tearing up. We weren't sure what to say. She then ask for a group hug (which we did 'air hug' style). We entered the store and purchased a few items and while we were in line paying, here came April! She was finished making her purchases, but came and found us to again thank us for a wonderful night of laughs. We all shared one more chuckle.
Speaking of paying for our items. One item we picked up which we thought was $14.97. When it rang up, it displayed $69.99. WHOA! "Uh, we will not purchase that one" we quickly rang out. "No problem," the lady said and we finished checking out. When we got to the car, we headed towards Walmart. While we were driving, Chrystal was separating on the receipt whose was what when she yelled out "Stop the car! She didn't take off the $69.99!" It's true, she hadn't, so we went back to Toys R Us. Now you must understand, they were only letting in 100 at a time into Toys R Us, and the line was still wrapped around the building. This would be a challenge...who would handle this? Me, I'm the kinda guy that would be fine with whatever they told me and I'd come back when convenient as I didn't want to deal with the hastle of fighting to get back into the store. Chrystal, she would have asked, but taken "no" as the answer and would have returned later and dealt with it. Stacey, she is as frugal as it gets and was not leaving until she had $69.99 in her hand-and an apology. We let Stacey handle it, and within 10 minutes she was cut in line, back in store, and heading out with the money! I love that lady!
I then got a text from Bro. Webster at church. He warned me to stay clear of Walmart, and after hearing other people's stories-I'm glad I did! We then headed to target! When we arrived, the line was already formed for the midnight opening time. Stacey and Chrystal dropped me off and went to a UDF gas station to use the potty. When they got there, the line for the ladies room was longer than the line at Target. So, they walked past all the ladies and WENT INTO THE MEN'S ROOM! They had asked and it was empty, so they marched in and locked the door and ...well never mind. Upon exiting, all the other ladies in line did the same...to this very day, I don't think a man has been able to use that restroom...desecrated!
Anyways, soon they found me in line at Target! We would have an hour and a half wait. By now our feet were hurting! It had been a long day. The man behind me in line (who some how ended up in front of me-still bitter) was from Louisville, Kentucky. He and I began to chat about life and shoppers and the stupidity of being out...yet great fun of it all! When we told him about our Toys R Us stories, we also told him about Chrystal being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Before we could go any further, he said, "You'd make a great Donatello!" Amazing isn't it?
It was then my sister got a text from a lady from our church. She was describing us, repeating our words, and obviously was near by! We searched and searched, but couldn't find her. Finally, Chrystal spotted her-it was Kim Byrd! We some how was able to squeeze her up in line with us (which may explain the Louisville guy's changing of positions). It was good to have another friend! Kim was after an ipod and would get it! We shared with Kim and all around us the stories from Toys R Us, Chrystal tried imitating all her characters again, and soon all those around us were laughing with us. It was getting cold and foggy. Stacey asked if it always got foggy on Black Friday. We told her "Yeah, every year. It's so odd. Haven't you heard of the Black Friday Fog?" I think she still thinks its true. Our hands were getting numb from coldness, when all of a sudden another couple from church was heading our way.
Chris and Shannon were married this last May. Chris loves 'making a buck,' and that is exactly what he was trying to do. He was selling Hot Snapz reusable hand warmers. He had given me a couple a few weeks ago, and I was using them already. They are great by the way and should you want one for $5, let me know! He was walking up and down lines and selling them to freezing people. We helped advertise for him and before you knew it he had sold many of them. They couldn't stay long as there were more lines to take advantage of.
Finally the doors opened and we were dashing into target. Police had to be called to barricade all the 'cheaters' who stayed in their cars from cutting in line. The guy from Louisville in front of me was getting angry. I did my best to get him more upset at those people and he eventually left his place in line to go yell at them. LOVED IT!
Target was packed! There was barely time to stop and talk to anyone, but Chrystal did hear a little voice call out, "Hey, look, mom! It's the big Jelly Bean!" It was our little friend Rachel from the Toys R Us line! People kept asking, "What are you after?" To which I always replied, "Memories." We picked up a few items and headed towards Kohls.
Kohls had been opened for over an hour and we really didn't need that much. We waited on a good parking spot and watched a lady waddle to her car. We were getting winded, but still laughing.On our way up to the door,I looked up and gasped. I quickly looked at Chrystal and said, "Did you just see that?" I could tell by the look on her face that she had seen what I had seen...a shooting star directly over the top of Kohl's. It confirmed what we already knew..this night was truly magical!(And that Stacey was already mostly asleep, because she missed it!) We shopped for only about 15 minutes, but waited in line over an hour just to check out. We texted Jordan Wilson while in line. He always had joined us for this adventure, but he got married this year and had to go to Michigan to see his inlaws (much sarcasm here). We forgave him upon the promise that next year he and Kristina would join us!
We got into the car and headed home. Well, honestly, we BARELY got into the car. I had to ask Chrystal if she was still back there, because she could not be seen for all the bags and boxes. Chrystal would sleep a few hours before the doctors appointment and Stacey and I would do the same before having to get up early and put the turkey in. Friday is our Burke Thanksgiving Day and this year Stacey and I are hosting.
Our feet hurt, our hands hurt, our pocket books were a little hurt...but nothing hurt like our face. We had laughed so much that our faces hurt! Now, it's Friday, and my family just walked into the house. My feet are better, my hands are better, my wallet will rebound, but my face...it still hurts! And I love it!
"The sad part guys," Chrystal said, "is it's over and we have 365 days to go until next year."