Contest prize reminds us to give thanks

Posted in Mom Stuff
by Jennifer

Christmas is coming a bit earlier for our family this year.

On Monday, my husband learned he is one of 12 grand-prize winners across the country of an essay contest sponsored by Best Buy. The prize: a limousine will pick up him and three guests, and drive them to the Best Buy in Strongsville for a pre-dawn VIP Black Friday tailgate party. Then he gets early admission to the store and a $1,000 gift card. Employees will help him shop before the doors open and the madness begins at 5 p.m. He also gets a new video camera, on which we are to record the excitement of the morning, and chances are the images will be part of an advertising campaign or featured on local TV news.

This also means first dibs on the “doorbuster” of his choice. In our case, that turns out to be a $197 laptop for our 11-year-old daughter, who has been a good miser all year and saved her money in hopes of a Black Friday special. He is forgoing the $299 Playstation 3 package that he really wanted, because he’s a good dad — the rules, as interpretted by the marketing company representative, are that he can only pick one doorbuster.

Before winning the contest, we had fretted about the best way to tackle our daughter’s dream of buying that laptop. While we have engaged in Black Friday antics for years (including with her as a young toddler), the day tends to bring out the ugliness in people. And competition for those cheap laptops is about as fierce as it gets. Did we really want to subject her to all of that? What if she waited in line all those hours and didn’t get one? She would be crushed.

Now, with the winning of this contest, that fear has been resolved. What a huge relief!

But the same competitive spirit that fuels the fun and anxiety of Black Friday has shown up as we have told friends and relatives about his prize. Suddenly, everyone wants him to get a laptop, camera, or game system for them. While they don’t expect him to spend his gift card on them, they do expect him to juggle everyone’s separate orders and not disappoint. And, some are lobbying hard to be one of the three “guests” he gets to bring with him, and are critical of our decision to let our three older children accompany him. (Although I would like to be there, I know any one of our three children would be crushed by the slight. It will mean far more to them to be there.)

He also is fighting internal demons, balancing practical needs with impractical desires. Should we use the money to buy things that we would otherwise have to spend money on, such as a new vacuum cleaner and a dishwasher, or fun things like the game system and flat-screen TV he really wants? Funny how $1,000 isn’t as much as you’d think when you start adding everything up.

As a result of all this pressure to not disappoint anyone, he has started to wonder if it’s even worth it. I can only imagine the anxiety felt by lottery winners. The tears streaming down daughter no. 1′s face when she learned we were limited to one laptop just about broke his heart.

But of course it is worth it. This whole experience is a gift, and we are trying hard to keep it all in perspective. Anything we get is more than we had before. And the memories will be priceless.  

The list he made this morning includes some practical: a vacuum cleaner! (OK, I should not be so excited about this) and a camera — and some impractical: a flat-screen TV for our bedroom, some new games for our existing game system.

I will smile every time I clean the carpets with my brand-new Dyson DC 17 Animal Bagless Upright Cyclonic Vacuum. I promise.

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