Let's blame my envy on a pre-lit Christmas tree gone bad.
It is, after all, the reason my husband got to venture to a store on Black Friday while I stayed home to avoid risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
Our 5-year-old was ready – had been ready for weeks – to set up the Christmas tree in its traditional spot in front of the living room window, but we stowed the tree away in January with many of its lights not working.
My husband tried to fix the built-in strands, but they were a lost cause. He instead spent much of Thanksgiving snipping at the wires so we could start anew.
With that, he had an excuse to brave the Black Friday crowds: The tree needed lights.
As he left, I told him to scope out the crowds. I had a hankering to browse but didn't want to face throngs of shoppers unnecessarily.
We're trying to act responsibly during this pandemic, partly because we have a kindergartner looking up to us – a kindergartner who endures wearing face masks a lot more frequently and for longer stretches of time than us.
And, frankly, contracting a potentially deadly virus that's also known to cause fatigue is worrisome. I've got a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old to chase after (not to mention the wrestling matches needed to change the 15-month-old's diaper – phew!).
That has meant new shopping habits: Avoid crowded aisles. Limit handling of merchandise. Make fewer leisurely trips. Reduce outings with our 1-year-old, who is too young to wear a mask. Breeze past shoppers flouting health guidelines. Choose cashiers wearing masks properly.
My husband wasn't eager to be among the Black Friday hordes, so he left one home improvement store when he saw its parking lot was full and tried another, hoping it would be less busy.
He came home with 14 boxes of 100-count light strands, news of a Starbucks filling a former Qdoba spot and observations quashing any hope I had to slip out shopping for an hour or two.
I made it out the next day – the upside of regularly needing groceries, I suppose – and I fell into my new habits: Avoid crowded aisles. Limit handling of merchandise. Breeze by shoppers unmasked or improperly masked. Choose a cashier wearing a mask properly.
Did I want this experience on Black Friday? No, thanks.