It’s been quite a Thanksgiving Weekend so far! A kitchen plumbing catastrophe prevented us from cooking a traditional holiday meal for our family on Thanksgiving Day.

I’d been looking forward to that dinner for months. But a pesky pipe plug resulted in one of my most memorable Thanksgivings ever.

On a lunch of chips, salsa, pretzels, Funyuns, and ginger persimmon bread from my neighbor across the street (courtesy of an overly ambitious persimmon tree in my front yard), we watched the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a little football, told a host of family stories that may or may not have been told before, shared one or two new ones, and laughed our asses off.

In doing so, we inadvertently reminded ourselves of a truth that we all should have learned years ago, from one of my literary heroes, Theodore Geisel. To paraphrase, maybe Thanksgiving, perhaps, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Thanksgiving, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Yesterday, as I awaited a call from a plumber who was enterprising enough to work on Thanksgiving Weekend, I decided to trek to…a drum roll, please…the mall. In my youth, I used to LOVE waking up at 4am (that wasn’t that odd, as I’ve always been a morning person) grabbing a fistful of sales circulars, and heading out to K-Mart (it used to be a place where people shopped), before going to at least one of suburban Detroit’s numerous, cavernous shopping malls. As recently as last year, I participated in a somewhat scaled-back version of that routine, here in my new Sacramento hometown.

Photo courtesy of Coleman Communications.

As much as I loved the bargains, I loved the crowds. I still do, to be honest. I’m a tried and true extrovert, so I draw energy from people and the interactions — good and bad — that you have from shopping mall parking lot to food court and back.

As I work from home, I’ve learned that a day with just my pit bull, JoJo, can drive a guy mad, and have found value in heading over to the local mall if just to get a Jamba Juice and a breath of fresh air away from the MacBook.

Photo courtesy of Coleman Communications.

Not yesterday. I don’t know whether it’s wisdom or age — now that I think of it, they come in a combo pack! — but after an hour or so and a loop around Sacramento’s Arden Fair Mall, in and out of a half dozen or so stores, I headed to The Home Depot (I love putting the “The” in front of “Home Depot”) for the new Christmas tree lights that I needed, and I went home for more chips and salsa.

Arden Fair in Sacramento, on Black Friday. Photo courtesy of Coleman Communications.

Reflecting on the great, minimalist Thanksgiving lunch and dinner I’d had the day before, I pondered about changing my tried and true Black Friday shopping tradition, too. Perhaps I could forgo the door buster purchases, bought primarily for people with whom I shared DNA but little else. Maybe, perhaps, I could find a way to make a difference via my holiday purchases.

Like shop a little on Small Business Saturday.

It’s been an “official” event since 2010, turkey-sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (which should be on life support by now — isn’t every Monday Cyber Monday, nowadays?). Small Business Saturday was established to encourage shoppers, during the year’s typical biggest shopping weekend, to support brick and mortar businesses that are small and community-based.

Initially, I was a little disconcerted to learn that Small Business Saturday was created by and is a registered trademark of American Express. I quickly found peace with that, having learned that American Express offered financial incentives for participation, to consumers and to mom-and-pops, in the wake of the Great Recession.

I’ve also learned that $68 of every hundred we spend at a local business will stay in the community in which the business is based. That’s contrasted with only $43 from the same c-note spent at a big box or chain store.

That’s enough for me. My plumber — a local, small business, by the way — made it to our home yesterday afternoon, so this Saturday morning, after I put the turkey that’s been patiently awaiting its second fate in the electric roaster, I won’t be heading to Starbucks.

I’ll head to Rivers Edge Cafe, a small neighborhood Denny’s-type place that makes a decent cup of coffee but a helluva flap jack. And before heading to Home Depot — sorry, THE Home Depot — for the new outside lights that I KNOW I’ll want to add once I see the new ones on the tree, I’ll head to Emigh’s Hardware. It’s a franchise, but it’s been owned by the same family for over 100 years. And I like that place better, anyway. It’s cozy. It’s friendly.

And it’s local.

And I’ll remain hopeful about how they’ll spend my $68.

Published by Michael P Coleman

Freelance writer. I used to talk to strangers and get punished. Now I talk to strangers and get published.

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