This year, we spent Black Friday at Dollywood. Our oldest two have been many times. Sam and I had been before, but never together. The youngest three had never been to any kind of theme park. Throughout the day, I found myself smiling and laughing so much that my cheeks hurt, watching a four-year-old experience her first tower drop will do that to you.
On other Black Fridays, we have stood in lines and waited for small appliances and TVs. Those were fun and exciting, but I think I liked this one better. We were dizzy on tea cups. We listened to dad explain the physics of the rides. We listened to bluegrass music. We got to experience so many firsts together.
The older I get, the more I realize that there are fewer and fewer first experiences. Instead as I mother three mini-humans and two almost-humans, I have become an observer to their firsts. I get to experience everything anew. It really is something to watch an eight-year-old’s excitement and declaration that he wants to ride every single ride.
I have always found the juxtaposition of having Black Friday right before Advent begins jarring. Just as we are preparing to welcome the most powerful presence to earth in the humblest beginnings, our culture is flooding us with messaging that we need more and more, especially when it is a deal. Maybe instead what we need to start the Advent season is the joy of being present with each other and seeing the world through someone’s else’s eyes. Their firsts become our reminders to live here and now with gratitude.
Who knew a woman who grew up in the poorest of places could create that kind of experience for so many people?