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Sale away - Mother, daughter embrace shopping as holiday tradition

My mom can't wait for my high school reunion.

Well, she can wait for the reminder that her oldest child is 10 years removed from high school. But to have her shopping partner home for the weekend after Thanksgiving makes that almost forgivable.

Of all the things and reasons to be excited about your daughter coming home to southwest suburban Chicago, it's the shopping trip that makes her happiest.

And no, we don't claim to like mall traffic, long lines, and stores messed up by shoppers who've come before us.

But there's a thrill that comes with sharing the experience of a great deal or laughing over the price of an ugly sweater. It's also the traditions - the first store we always visit, that cup of coffee we always grab, the department store where we always stop but where we rarely buy anything. It's something men don't seem to understand, and I think it's a matter of definition. To men, "shopping" is a term of utility; to women, "shopping" refers to an experience.

With my mom, we'd shop together year-round, but it's the day after Thanksgiving that I miss those trips the most. Shopping is just one part of the day (Christmas decorating is the other side), but it would be my mom, my sister and me trying to take advantage of the discounts that inevitably come with the day after Thanksgiving.

We're still proud of the year we got out of the house and were at the mall by 6 a.m. and managed to finish all our shopping and get over to Panera by 10 a.m. We sat with our cinnamon bagels and coffee while mall traffic backed up well beyond the windows of the restaurant. Knowing we were done with our Christmas shopping and managed to get sweaters for 60 percent off because we got there before 10 made the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call well worth it.

But I haven't been able to come home for Thanksgiving since 2003. That's when I got married and traded deep-dish pizza for lobster rolls, Daleys for Kennedys, and Alberta Clippers for nor'easters.

And there's no flying home for Thanksgiving when there's a Thanksgiving paper and a day-after-Thanksgiving newspaper.

"But you'll be in Saturday, right?" my mom asked when I told her in July about the reunion. Friday morning's door-buster sales won't still be around, but as I said, it's not always the deals that bring you out.

Erin Williams is the deputy features editor at The Patriot Ledger. ewilliams@ledger.com.

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