Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankful? Or should we say frothing at the mouth?

It's that magical time of year again, that time of the year where hard working folk's like yourself get a few days off of work to relax and think about what you're thankful for with your families. But, instead stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Toy R Us have decided that to make things just a little more confusing they should open at 6PM (5PM for Toys R Us) on Thanksgiving for Black Friday. This I believe is the definitive blow to what Thanksgiving has actually become, nothing more than a warm-up to Black Friday. Considering the fact that Christmas will be less than a month away a lot of people will pass up the extra family time to ensure the Christmas Joy.

Unfortunately I am one of them, not necessarily for the same reasons as most people. I do not like the lines, the crowds, and I don't give a shit about saving $200 a TV when I have a perfectly good TV at home. I have a daughter who is 5 and where as previous years we could get away with going cheap and getting a little more (meaning shopping for generic stuff, stuff that is cheap year round.), and she didn't care. But, as the years go by, she has become more conscious and aware of what we give her and where it comes from. I thank god I don't have to be one of the parents dropping $500+ on an Xbox One plus accessories for an ungrateful kid.

But, unfortunately, she is very aware of branding, and she now knows the difference between a knock-off and what she asked for. Before it was vague terms like ponies or doggie, which meant you could get her absolutely anything that fit that description and no complaints. But, now it's Monster High, and Edible Play-Doh, she actually even mentioned Gak. Gak! That weird shit that Nickelodeon made back in the 90's, well apparently it's popular again. How does she know all this (because we do not have cable TV in our house)? She uses my girlfriends Kindle to watch YouTube videos of people talking about all the stuff they have. Now that she has seen all the stuff, she wants all the stuff, and she is dropping names.

Number one on her list is the Monster High High School, it normally retails for around $80, but when I was looking through the sale papers for Black Friday there is was on sale for like $30, that was when I realized I was going to be locked into a struggle with frothing at the mouth mothers and teenage-20 something year old girls over a playset for my 5 year old. You see a lot of the people who have Monster High videos on YouTube aren't even in the age bracket of like 12-13 they are Senior's in High School, they are college students who have latched on to these weird whorish dolls. But, I love my daughter, and for her I will brave the crowds to ensure that she get's what she wants for Christmas.

It's sad that this is what this time of year has become. It's not about being thankful for what you have, because what you have is only good enough until the next thing comes along. The fact that stores will be opening on Thanksgiving in the middle of the day is a testament to this fact. I know a lot of you are simply saying to yourselves if you hate it so much then why go, why not just spend the extra and not deal with it? That answer is simple, I'm not privileged enough to do that. Every time I see a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of finances, something catastrophic happens and I am forced to make decisions. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag hit shelves on October 29th, I had it pre-ordered since it was available for pre-order. I didn't pick it up, I still haven't, my first glimmer of hope to even get it was Black Friday, considering my last new game was Bioshock Infinite I'd say I haven't wasted too much on gaming this year, so I figured, "I'll pick up ACIV and maybe a couple other cheapies while they are on sale and that should be good for the year." The best part was everything was falling in to place to allow me to provide for my daughter and splurge the little bit extra on myself. My girlfriend came into about $300 more than what she was getting before, I was looking at the very least around 18 hours of overtime on my paycheck it finally seemed as though we could do this.

But then we had to unfortunately treat the house and all three of our pets for fleas, which cost a lot more than what we wanted to spend. Considering Black Friday is right at the end of the month, one also has to take into account that bills are coming in and you don't want to push those off, but even with the Flea treatment and bills it seemed we still had plenty of breathing room. Then I got hit with a brick of information that I could barely handle. Turns out my ex-wife pulled a switch-a-roo and just in time for the holidays. Due to being laid off last year I fell behind with my child support payments, so I had been paying my support obligation, plus a little extra to make up for the difference on what I fell behind on.

I'm about to be really honest here, not that I haven't been throughout, but I'm about to be incredibly honest. I have a 7 year old son who lives in another state, I love that boy with all my heart. He was the object of my affection when I got to spend every day, and when things fell apart every other weekend. I fell on hard financial times and was forced to move back in with my parents, who lived states away. I didn't like the thought of not seeing him as much, but I figured we could be civil work something out and I would make the most of the time I did get. I called often and things were fine for awhile, but then things became stressed between my ex-wife and I. I asked when I could have him, she said she didn't want him leaving state lines, I had no money for a lawyer, no resources, and I was forced to just deal with it. I then found that my time talking to my son was being hampered by her constant nagging and complaining so when I called I talked to him for less than a minute. Eventually I stopped calling the stress of it all was overwhelming with all the drastic ways my life was changing. Then she tried to convince me to sign over my rights to allow her boyfriend to adopt my son. I hated her, I was broke, but I didn't do it, eventually I did break down and tell her I would consider it, but her response made me realize I didn't actually want that.

I've been struggling to get my shit together, trying to eventually find a way to get my son back into my life. She has moved around a lot, failed to give me info, etc., etc. But, then I opened my paycheck and saw that way too much money was missing, I called the lady in charge of payroll and found out it wasn't a mistake, I was paying two child support orders for the same child. Only one was arrears to my ex, and one was current to her mom. I was flabbergasted, how could she simply hand over custody of my kid without anyone asking me. After repeated calls to courts, and child support I got nowhere, Child Support claimed they just get the orders from the courts, the courts said they had no record of anything changing in my case. I eventually heard through the grapevine that she had moved in with her mom, and still had custody. That meant I was paying her double out of every check reducing them to next to nothing. When I realized this I called Child Support, explained the situation and got nowhere, the only response I got was that what her mom does with her payments is her business. What kind of an answer is that? Someone is defrauding you, and the best you can say is "Oh well, we just do what we're told."

So, that response meant that a large chunk of what we thought we were going to get just vanished. The chance of getting more than one game diminished, but I was happy to be able to provide for my daughter and still get at least the game I really really wanted, and then Friday the heat in my car just stopped working. No matter how I turn the dial, whether I pressed in while turning or pulled out nothing worked, it is now Sunday night, the week of Black Friday and I still have no heat. I live in Ohio, in November it is fucking cold, heat is a necessity, especially when you have to transport a child. So, now we are faced with either waiting for it to come back on, or fixing it now and dwindling our Black Friday money down to next to nothing. We will barely cover what we need to get her enough to make going out even worth it.

That is why I do this, because anytime I get even a small amount of extra money something comes a long to mop it up, some inconvenient thing. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad, but that is why I do it. These deals allow me to provide amazing Christmas' with limited funds, she get's what she wants and we get to feel like we did something great. You won't see me in the lines for the big ticket TV's or the newest hottest Phone, but you will see me in the throngs of the Black Friday madness to put a smile on my daughters face. I won't be walking away from Black Friday with anything for myself, but I'm ok with it.

The Problem I have with all of this is the fact that people like me, who really can't afford to supply Christmas in any other way will have to cut their holiday short to simply make their kids happy. Those kids will never know what had to be done to make that happiness a reality. But, most of all their family will never understand why deals are more important than spending time with the ones you love while you have the time. I know the rest of the world looks at us like a bunch of retards who all just fall in line with what we are told. But most of us were born without a choice, we live the life we can afford to live. But, yes there are those who run out on their loved ones to save a few dollars on shit they don't need, and will replace next year.

I feel bad for the parents, and grandparents who will have to fight with hungry 20 somethings over video games. I read about a dad who wanted to make sure his kid got a PS4 on his birthday so he resorted to spending $800 for a PS4, he got it home to set it up while the kid was at school so he could surprise him, when he got it all hooked up it was just an empty shell. He spent $800 on a case with cords and a controller. That is the nature of people today, all profit and no honesty anymore. Money is the root of all evil, but anybody who tells you that it can't buy happiness has clearly never been poor.