On Black Friday we stay out all night: a family’s tale

Photo by Derian Silva| Shown is Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Black Friday, 2017.

Photo by Derian Silva| Shown is Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Black Friday, 2017.

David Saveanu

Staff Writer

To a lot of people, Black Friday is a chaotic day when you can get bargains on almost anything, but my family sees it differently.

It’s a time when we get together and do our holiday shopping, sure, but more so than that, it’s a bonding experience that we all look forward to.

We tend to make a pretty loaded itinerary, going from mall to mall all across the Chicagoland area and up into Wisconsin, often times with no clear plan of what we want to buy, but a definite plan of goofing off in different stores, eating loads of junk food and a lot of driving with Christmas music blasting.

We begin the night after the holiday dinner of the traditional Bulgarian fare of boiled leather belt. Fighting the urge to fall into a deep food coma, we pick up some coffee and head out to begin the nightlong odyssey. We start out at Woodfield mall, a large mall, where we walk off the Thanksgiving dinner and get ourselves more awake.

After a few hours of walking, laughing, smoothies and pretzels, we move on to some electronic stores, not really because we’re looking for anything, but to simply play with the newest gadgets and make our silly selfies a background on all phones and tablets; the devices all reset so it’s no trouble to the workers, just funny to other customers looking at the products.

For some reason, staying up really late makes you crave the unhealthiest food, so after the pretzels and smoothies, we reenergized with more fast food after the electronic stores. We head home around 2 a.m. to relax and unwind a bit, because the sleep deprivation starts getting to our better judgement, and every sale on shoes and jeans seems like the greatest deal possible.

Back at home, taking a quick nap is highly frowned upon, which includes the common excuse of “not actually sleeping, just resting my eyes.” We stay up and watch funny videos online, play a couple of board games and decide that we’re in too deep with our junk food binge so we might as well continue; we break out the cookies and pumpkin pie and continue making more regrettable decisions.

Many people judge my family and me on how seriously we take Black Friday. They call the fact that we go out and buy things, immediately after being thankful on Thanksgiving, ironic.

The truth is, if you look at it that way, it is ironic, but that’s not why we do it. It’s merely an activity we all bond over and the fact that so many people are out and about makes it more exciting. It feels like the holiday season begins with a boom; a night of running around and getting everyone you love everything they love. I love being a part of that and watching it happen as well.

Part two of the quest, starts bright and early at 5:30 a.m., and involves us heading for Wisconsin’s outlet mall in Kenosha. It is a 40-minute drive that is well worth it because of the length of time we can listen to Dean Martin’s holiday hits.

We roam the outdoor mall and, listening to the music playing on the outdoor speakers and looking at the decorated windows, I think that all that’s missing from this picture is for it to be snowing.

After a couple more hours spent at Kenosha, we move on to mall number three, which brings us back to one of the prettiest malls in Northern Chicago: Westfield Old Orchard.

I peek over to the ice skating rink, which due to weather, hasn’t been opened yet. The Christmas tree sale across the street and giant decorated evergreens are all over the mall. It’s sights like these that make Black Friday, for my family, feel like the commencement of the holidays.

The adventure ends around 3 p.m. on Friday, when our feet hurt too much to go on and we’re satisfied with what we’ve bought and, most importantly, experienced.

The funny thing is, I did most of my holiday shopping online on cyber Monday, as did most of the family. It is truly about the spending the night together for us.

People often wince at the idea of going out Black Friday shopping, much less staying out all night and continuing for hours like my family does, but to us it wouldn’t be the holiday season without our crazy night.