The Thrill of the Hunt

Dearest Rachel –

One of the particular advantages of still being far out of sorts, with regard to time zones (not to mention suffering from the effects of the food coma kicking in early on in the fourth quarter between New York and Dallas, not that I had any concern about the outcome of that game) is that I find myself waking up, raring to go before four in the morning, yet again, which is ideal for taking on Black Friday shopping. This was the sort of adventure that you relished on the day after Thanksgiving; for whatever reason, you thought of the mere experience of getting up early (at least, on this particular day), standing on line, braving the crowds, and finding some great bargain on something coveted by one of the family, to be the height of adventure. You would oftentimes be sitting on the floor, while the menfolk of the family were watching the various games, poring over the advertisements and coupons pertaining to Black Friday sales, and whether we had anyone to shop for at this or that location for any particularly sought-after item on a door buster sale.

So it stands to reason that, combining the fact that I’m up and awake at what would otherwise be a ridiculous hour, that I still have people to shop for (we’ll get to the details of that in a moment), and that it would be something to tell you about, seeing that you enjoyed it as much for the experience alone as for the actual thrill of the hunt (as well as the capture of this or that item from our list of things to buy for this or that family member), that I might as well join the crush of oh-dark-thirty, this-is-war, determined mass of early bird Black Friday shoppers.

Except… with no one to buy for (or, more to the point, with), the exercise becomes particularly, and painfully, pointless. For once in my life, I’ve actually gotten a jump on Christmas shopping. There are, after all, the finds from our recent trip – you can guess who those go to. I have placed orders online for things that I think Daniel and Dad might be interested in – although there’s always room to add a thing or two more for either of them, I suppose, especially when others need ideas for the former, and I have to address both Christmas and birthday for the latter. Meanwhile, our niece has some particularly esoteric requests for the holidays… it’s not like any of them will be likely to be found on some Black Friday door buster special (although turning over the yet-again rolled-over ticket for the local Doctor Who convention has also enthused her – I should check your email, and see if you keep getting sent tickets for this event you’ll never go to; perhaps she’ll get the chance to attend again next year on our dime, as well). Our nephew, as well, has a single specific request, which may well require the entire family to go in on, pending further information to come out about it. And Bill? Well, it’s not as it they have sales on gift cards, after all.

So, it’s not as if I have any particular reason to go out. Nothing on offer is actually appealing to anyone on my list (assuming any of them are actually aware of anything on offer), and even without it, I’m well on my way to completing said list without bothering to brave the hordes that might be out the in the cold and the dark of what purports to be morning. And as for the thrill of the hunt, the experience itself, I won’t categorically claim that was all you, but you made it worthwhile. The idea of standing on line in the dark and cold by myself, with nothing better to do than just standing there, not making snarky conversation to my partner in crime, strikes me as a bit unbearable – especially with no real specific goal in mind. Even the one place that became nearly traditional for us, the secondhand bookstore chain that we would haunt before its opening at seven, is hours away (not so much in terms of distance, as in time), and anyway, most of those book bags that we collected from getting there so early each Black Friday have since been jettisoned with the purge of the rest of the house. So what would be the point of going there anymore?

It may be that, at this point, you might interject with a question about how I haven’t provided anyone else in the family with ideas for my own Christmas list. Here, I’m well on my way to finishing my shopping for all of them, and they have no clue what to get me. Might as well do some shopping for myself, and give them the opportunity to give this or that to me, come this time next month. And that’s probably a fairly reasonable idea – if a little bit selfish. The thing is, as long as we’re going to talk about being selfish, I find myself thinking of Scrooge (which is appropriate, given we’re talking about Christmas): “I can think of no greater welfare than a night of uninterrupted sleep.” Besides, the one thing I truly want isn’t something that someone can give to me – or rather, it can’t be purchased, as such. I suppose that a heart can be given, after all, but you can’t find it in a store or something like that. Now, if I had a companion to take on this adventure with, it might be worth doing, but at that point, I’d have my own list fulfilled, so it still wouldn’t be worth going out and braving all the inconveniences attendant upon the day’s typical activities.

Perhaps I should simply try to sleep on the idea; if I’m still awake at six (or wake up again at that time), I may still consider taking on the adventure, regardless. On the other hand, if I wind up out cold until eight or nine, then I will have been given the answer by nature, and time itself. Let’s see what happens.

With all that being said, honey, keep an eye on me, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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