Black Friday Traditions
The Christmas season officially begins the day after Thanksgiving, as is stipulated by federal, Canon, and Santa law. Violators risk prison time, excommunication, and a violent encounter with nine flying reindeer. For most, today is dedicated to the pursuit of deals. Black Friday gets its name from all the mass casualty shopping events on this day in years past. If you won’t kill someone over that last discount TV, do you even love your family? I won’t be shopping in person anywhere this year. As part of Christmas season creep, most Black Friday sales unofficially started in April. I bought everything I needed with a few swipes on my phone. That’s a lie. I didn’t need any of it, and the swipes on the “buy now” button numbered in the hundreds. Even the Amazon driver thinks I have a problem. Instead of shopping, my kids and I will spend today dedicated to our family’s Black Friday tradition: decorating the Christmas tree. Its presence (and presents) will fill our lives with holiday cheer for the next month to month and a half, depending how lazy I am about eventually taking it down. More importantly, it will light a normally dark corner of our front room. For one brief but magical period, our creaky and sometimes creepy Victorian house will look like the cover of a Christmas card. The tree serves as a large, gaudy distraction from all the other problems in our house, which is far cheaper than renovating. That’s the true meaning of the season.
Unlike most family projects I initiate, decorating the tree is one area where my kids are an asset rather than a hindrance. It’s the only time I don’t have to put quotation marks around their “help.” It all comes down to chaos. Order is the opposite of Christmas cheer. Holiday spirit is messy and random. That’s how my kids hang ornaments. They use their many tiny hands to fling up shiny baubles with no sense of pattern or purpose. Take a Martha Stewart Christmas tree and hit it with a tornado and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how our tree turns out. I love it. Every genre and style of ornament is mixed together with malicious disregard for symmetry or spacing. In years past, the girls concentrated most of the ornaments toward the bottom of the tree because that’s all the higher they could reach. More recently, they’ve mastered step ladders. There’s no stopping them now. Betsy can reach the very top of the tree without my assistance, which officially makes her an adult. If she asks for the van keys or demands a beer, by law, I have to hand over both. This is her house now.