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    Mall Mayhem Day

           Tomorrow, Friday, December 5, is a very special day. For twenty years, a few friends and I have honored the first Friday of December as faithfully and festively as the pagans honored the winter solstice. Indeed, part of the definition of “pagans” reads as follows: “ones who delight in sensual pleasures and material goods; hedonistic”. And that’s a rather apt description of how we’ll behave.
            Tomorrow, we’ll descend upon countless retail shops to sample, enjoy, and purchase their wares, feeding the material beast. We’ll clandestinely indulge in the mind bending consumption of alcohol. We’ll carry on and frolic about in a suburban holiday fantasy play land. Tomorrow, the first Friday of December, is Mall Mayhem Day.
            Since the late 1980’s, virtually every major mall in Eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island has been sacked by our merry band of holiday revelers. Fueled by deep friendship, holiday spirit, and a water bottle full of Sambuca, we immerse ourselves into the land of Christmas make believe. And we shop. Inevitably, we end up buying as much for ourselves as we do for anybody else. But that’s part of the fun. Picking out things for yourself with friends around makes the gift...more festive. More communal. More memorable. Virtually every gift I have ever purchased on Mall Mayhem Day comes with a story. And with a memory of who I was with when I bought it. That makes the gift very special to me. Because while the gift may be the physical manifestation of the experience, the experience itself is worth infinitely more to me than whatever I bought.
            Mall Mayhem Day is not a foray into what some would describe as a decayed suburban wasteland. It’s a chance to get together, for a WHOLE DAY, with people I love and who’s company I feel blessed by. It’s a day of festivity and fun, as we create new experiences and new memories. It’s an opportunity to totally immerse oneself in the holiday spirit. With over the top decorations, Christmas music, bright lights, shiny things, and yes, Santa Claus. It’s one of the few days of the year that I would ever dream of having a belt by 11 AM. And I end up with some new stuff as well. What’s not to love?
            This year, we’re returning to the Natick Mall, in Natick, Massachusetts. The new part of the mall, the part that houses stores like Needless Markup and Sex Fifth Avenue, is called the Natick Collection. I suppose they felt as though they had to differentiate the stores that charge $400 for a shirt from the stores that sell the same shirt for $39.95. If your store is part of the “Collection”, and not the “mall”, the cache justifies the absurd price differential. It doesn’t matter, though, because we have fun no matter what store we’re in. Or what store we get kicked out of.
            Shopping with friends on Mall Mayhem Day is a luxury that I am fortunate to enjoy, especially these days. As much fun as it is (and man, is it fun), it is also a day in which I experience profound gratitude. I’m grateful that I have such wonderful friends to spend time with. Grateful that I have the flexibility to take that day and do exactly what I please. Grateful that I enjoy this time of year, when so many do not. Mall Mayhem Day is one of those days that honestly reminds me of how blessed I really am. Another reason I love it.
            Now dude, please pass the "water". I thirst.

    ©2008 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a mall full of Wrongs) Reserved.

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