I wish I would have been ambitious enough to write this post earlier, but I got caught up in the shopping craze myself. I set out at midnight Friday morning with a friend and didn’t return home until seven. Exhausted from the chaos, I went straight to bed. But my Black Friday experience was typical: shoving my way through crowds of people, waiting in lines that stretched around the entire store, and enduring the sub 30 degree temperatures, all on no sleep.

Some people might ask: WHY? We all remember the Walmart employee that was trampled to death last year, so what motivates people to go out and shop in the first place? We shop on Black Friday for the thrill of the chase and the enjoyment in bragging to our friends that we were out shopping at 3 AM. It is a time we are willing to wait (which is a rarity in American culture.) Black Friday is the one day a year where stores open at unthinkable hours when most people are sleeping soundly. It is the one time a year ambitious shoppers can come together in an effort to get the item they have been waiting to get all year. So many of us choose to do it because we are attracted to the idea of getting what we want for cheap.

According to a study done by CCN, department stores are where the majority of shoppers will go on Black Friday. Supercenter stores are the next most popular place, closely followed by electronic stores. In Saginaw, MI where I live, people braved the bitter cold and grueling winds relaxing in tents, pull out chairs, and piles of blankets outside the doors of everywhere from Best Buy to Target. The expected amount to be spent this year is $447.10 billion, a slight increase from what was spent last year. This huge amount doesn’t reflect the economic panic America recently survived, but reflects America’s materialism.

And the lines! Black Friday lines are absolutely ridiculous, but yet so many people are willing to wait HOURS! I waited an hour and a half in line at Old Navy – and yes, I felt this wait was completely justified, even though I only purchased three items. As strange as it is, when you wait in line for so long you begin to communicate with the people around you, generally in order to complain about the situation you are both in. This Black Friday I witnessed moms carrying carts full of toys, store workers struggling to maintain safety, and parking lots filled to the brim – nothing out of the ordinary.