It was a joyous Thanksgiving spent with family, friends, the fullness of too much food and a glass or two of wine. My 'wind up plan' to our perfect holiday was to mindlessly relax in front of the television until my daughter’s sparkling gaze hijacked me back to reality. 

Once locking my eyes with hers, I knew all plans for relaxation were doomed because I promised we’d stay up all night and experience Black Friday together. 

“You are crazy, girl! Don’t go – she’ll forget," Nina begged.

“Judi, it’s dangerous, I agree with Nina."

“Ju-!"

Feeling both fatigue and discomfort (from my over stuffed belly), I good-naturedly shrugged my shoulders while knowing my fate: I was committed to honor the promise I had made to my daughter.

“This is so exciting, Mommy!" Laura screamed.

“Yep, we’re doing it, my darling!"

While driving, I wondered aloud why there wasn’t any traffic. “I think everyone bailed on Black Friday and went to sleep," commented my daughter.

“Ya think?" I asked as I made a sharp right hand turn off the exit ramp. Suddenly, as if on cue, Laura and I both simultaneously shouted, “You have got to be kidding!" 

Immediately we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic that seemed never ending. “So, Laura, about those people not going out on Black Friday?" I sarcastically asked my daughter as I stared ahead. Meekly, Laura quietly replied, “So… um… I was wrong?" “It’s okay," I laughed,  “we’ll make this a very special ‘Mommy/Daughter memory!" 

Three hours later, we finally parked within the Toys ‘R Us parking lot. Firmly holding my daughter’s hand, I scanned the multitudes of people patiently waiting outside as we found our place at the very end of the line. Seven hours later, at 7:00 am in the morning, we left the store eager to greet our warm, cozy beds. The entire evening consisted of one hour shopping and nine hours of waiting in lines…. 

***

“Ma’am, can you please hold my place while I look for another cart?" asked the man who had been patiently standing behind me for the past three hours. Smiling, I nodded a ‘yes’ and offered to watch his bundle of toys as he scouted a cart. Looking down at my daughter, I was pleased she was having so much fun. On the outside, it looked as though we were ‘Black Friday prisoners’, but, in reality, it was a positive experience for both my daughter and me.

Since I’ve never participated in a Black Friday anything, my personal opinions were drawn from hearsay or the news. Prepared for the worst filled with madness and violence, I was genuinely impressed with what I had actually observed. Within a mass of over 5000 people waiting on line, I found myself surrounded with an abundance of kindness and good will.   

Twenty minutes later, the man behind me returned with a number of additional carts. Curious, I watched him as he generously handed the carts to exhausted moms who’d been hand carrying their babies for hours. From there, I noticed the same deed duplicated by other’s thus relieving quite a few tired moms.

A few feet ahead of me, a woman pulled out a few books from her purse and started reading to a group of children that quickly multiplied. It was intriguing to watch and the ‘story hour(s)’ occupied the children – mine included – for hours. I later discovered that she is a teacher who, thank God, had a few more tricks up her sleeve for the children. 

One of the first families I saw before we entered the store had to leave before their checkout and a kind stranger offered to purchase their toys for them and deliver them the next day.

Longer than the lines we stood on were the countless lists of kindness my daughter and I witnessed. Our ‘Black Friday experience’ defied all warnings of violence and aggression. 

Upon exiting the store, my little one grabbed my arm and asked, “Mamma, this was so much fun and everyone was really nice. Why did Nina say we’d regret something so wonderful?"

Looking down at my daughter, I replied, “We were fortunate, my darling, to share Black Friday and other miracles."

“Miracles?" she asked.

“Yeah, Miracles, baby. This is how I have always seen God’s work – through people – and the kindness and compassion we experienced tonight is an extension of His love. What could have been mayham wasn’t and I think God was right there on line helping all those wonderful people. It really isn’t that hard to be kind to each other and tonight was a perfect example of that."

With a slight pause, my Laura said, “Mmmm…. Black Friday and Other Miracles… I like that!"

“So do I! Now let’s get some sleep!"

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