A couple of years ago I started a new tradition. It’s called the Black Friday Flyer Weigh-In. I find it funny — in that “Are you kidding me?” way and not so much in a ha-ha way — that we get not one, but two newspapers that we’re not even subscribed to on Thanksgiving Day, both stuffed with advertisements from some of the most, and least, interesting places. I became curious over the amount of paper wasted, trees ripped out of the ground, and ink splayed over the surface of this printed wasteland. I’m still on paper, so don’t expect actual statistics here.
Five pounds. That’s how much our friendly neighborhood mass marketing mess weighed this year. Five pounds of sales on candy, clothing, computers, clocks, candles, clogs and other assorted and sundry items… and that’s just starting on the letter C. It is wasted on Spouse and me. We aren’t big on wading through crowds to find the perfect gift for anyone, not even each other. We do exchange small gifts, but now that the Love Couple has decided it would be fun to live a flight away, and Second Born’s college is a hop, skip and a nine-hour-drive, we tend to invest in travel and hope they appreciate our presence over presents.
When the kids were little, it was great fun to have them open a bunch of little gifts and then one big-ticket item, but now that the girls are more aware of how much things cost, their requests are simpler these days. They are, however, willing to accept cash in the form of the green stuff or gift cards. They’re good like that.
One good thing about sales flyers is that they provide you with plenty of ideas for gifts if you happen to have a big family, or one persnickety relative whose name you got in this year’s Secret Santa drawing…. like maybe an air popped popcorn maker or binoculars. Those two things alone cover a broad spectrum of gift giving. Or you can spring for one of those tracking thingies that tells you how far you walk and how well you sleep, and yells at you for turning the television up too loud or leaving your dish in the sink. Wouldn’t every college student love that? It’s like having Mom right there with you. Fine, maybe not.
We may not get much use from the flyer pile, but Spouse can’t resist picking up “just one more” inflatable animal or decoration for the front yard. I think he’s trying to signal Santa with lights and waving bears. We have more decorations now than we did before Second Born left for college four years ago. I’ll bet those folks that drive around town looking for decorations a couple of weeks before Christmas are saying, “Hey, let’s go by that house where the kids grew up and left, and see if they added another penguin this year.” I will not be showing Spouse the minion on the Lowe’s flyer.
Even if you don’t go crazy with gifts for the holiday, all these advertisements have to provide you with ideas for any special occasion, or just because you want it. There are good deals on headphones, waffle makers, earrings and egg timers. You can even pick up a Porsche for a steal… not literally, please.
There is one more purpose for this mound of marketing. It’s a great incentive for losing weight. I dropped five pounds just by walking to the recycling bin.
— Janine Talbot
Janine Talbot, a recent award winner in the humor writing category of the 2016 Annual Column Contest of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, writes a weekly humor column for the Journal Tribune in southern Maine. An empty nester since her two daughters had the nerve to believe it when they were told to follow their dreams, Janine lives with her spouse of 30+ years, who often forgets that his actions are fodder for her column, and two and a half cats. She blogs at www.momofmanywords.com.