Almost everyone who celebrates the holidays has some family tradition they do every year; but I promise, nothing anyone does compares to the insanity of my family’s ‘Black Friday’ shopping tradition. I’m going to need to give out a little background information about our tradition. There are three basic rules that matter for this tradition. One, you have to be at least a freshman in high school. Two, you have to be a woman. Three, you have to wear the matching shirts.

Let me explain these shirts a little more. We wear matching shirts, and I’m not talking about going to the store and all of us buying the exact same shirt. No, I’m talking about custom bedazzled shirts that are slightly different depending on which generation you are apart of. Sometimes they have the same design but the colors were slightly different or they were all the same color with different words on them. I remember the first year I participated in this insanity my sister and I were given Santa hats to wear, everyone was also wearing Christmas light necklaces as well as jingle bracelets. The theory behind the light-up necklace and the jingle bell bracelet was so we could either see or hear when our kin was near.

So, the routine is pretty simple. We look through the catalogs after Thanksgiving dinner and map out what stores we are going to go to, which ultimately decides when we are going to leave. My first year we left around 2:00 am and slowly got earlier and earlier until last year when we left around 4:00 pm on Thanksgiving. It’s freezing, the lines are insanely long, and it is the one night of the year my insomnia decides to go away. One of my aunts strategically places herself in the checkout line and stays there the entire time we are in the store and as we shop everyone just places there stuff in the cart she has with her so not everybody is spending hours at the checkout counter and we can immediately head to the next store.

Around 6:00 am we decide it’s time for breakfast and we always go to the same place: Meme’s Cafe. The sane women in my family who opted to join everyone at breakfast instead of going all night, meet everyone at the restaurant and from there we all decide where to go to next.

The shopping continues until everyone has bought everything on their lists and I wish I could say we finish an hour or two after breakfast but that is not the case. My first year doing this, we stayed out shopping for 22 ½ hours, another year it was over 24 hours, and then another it was 18.

I know what you are probably thinking, ‘why would anyone put themselves through this, ever,’ Well I’ll tell you why. On Christmas morning my entire family gathers at my aunt and uncle’s house for a Christmas breakfast buffet and it is my absolute favorite part of Christmas. Everyone is happy and cheerful, but no one is as excited as the kids who are running around showing everyone what Santa brought for them. After seeing how excited they all are, it makes sleeping in the trunk of a jeep in a Walmart parking lot, dealing with the crazy Black Friday Shoppers (many of whom you are related to), and all the blood, sweat, and tears completely worth it.