Black Friday: The Year a Husband Went Solo


Black Friday isn’t my thing. I’m not a shopper. (Anyone with me?!?) I still have clothes in my closet from bygone college days. We keep our furniture until we need a chiropractor to fix our backs.

But several years ago, my husband asked if we should wake up early and hit the Black Friday sales. We had just returned to the continental United States after a three-year stint in Hawaii. Salt, sun and humidity had wrecked the belongings we’d hauled to the tropics. And the rest of our possessions had been gathering dust in storage.

Still… shopping on Black Friday?

Not my idea of fun—especially with a toddler. No thanks. I’d rather be lowered into a pit of angry rattlesnakes.

Black Friday = Adventure

My dear spouse, however, is an adventurer. He has visited 53 countries and has built a working 20-year spreadsheet of upcoming travels for our family. When the prospect of adventure settles into his brain, there’s no stopping him.

In another life, he might have been Ferdinand Magellan, the first explorer known to circumnavigate the globe. First man to tackle Black Friday solo? No sweat.

So… if he were to venture out alone, he wondered aloud, what would we need?

“Nothing,” I thought.

But I didn’t want to steal his joy. A one-year-old son made the timing rough for a sail around the world. Black Friday was the only possible expedition on the horizon.

“Lamps,” I said, before I could stop myself.

“How many?” he asked, a smile creeping into his eyes.

I added up the number of our cheap, old lamps in my head: Eleven.

The Black Friday Hunt

My spouse went to bed on Thanksgiving a focused man. When his alarm tolled at 4 am, he whispered that it wasn’t too late for the rest of the family to join him.

Still a solid “no” from me.

So he threw on some clothes, crept downstairs and inched my minivan into the November darkness. The man had done his research. He knew what stores had lamp sales. He had a list.

Our son and I woke up a couple of hours later, ate breakfast and played trains. When we heard the garage door open, we headed out. Raising the lift gate, my husband glowed with the pride of a hunter hauling home a trophy elk. Brown cardboard boxes filled the entire minivan. One by one, he transported them onto our kitchen island.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven.

Christmas had arrived early! We sliced open the boxes, listening as he explained how much money we had saved by shopping on Black Friday. The words warmed my frugal heart.

White-and-blue ceramic. Tiffany-style stained glass. Carved wood. Stainless steel.

Each Beautiful; Each Different

Wait… each different?

My mind sprinted. I asked if he had bought any matching lamps. I explained to this typically brilliant man that lamps usually come in pairs — one for each end table or nightstand. Turns out, such traditions had never occurred to him. He simply had bought the prettiest 11 lamps he could find.

Glancing at the sprawling collection, he asked if he should return them. He looked… sad. It would take hours to re-box and return them. Hours longer to find new ones, then stand in line to buy them.

In that moment, I decided we would keep the eclectic mix of splendor.

After all, when your noble adventurer shows up with elk for Thanksgiving dinner, you don’t tell him you wanted turkey. You eat elk. And you learn to be more precise with your request next time.

For better or for worse, right?

Next Time…

We still have those Black Friday lamps and we probably will for the next 50 years because lamps are expensive. And I’m thrifty. And I don’t like to shop.

But the next time my husband wants to head out on Black Friday, I’ll send one of our kids to chaperone. After all, they know the story of the lamps.