I once was teaching a classroom full of teenagers about American customs, and I thought that they’d probably had lessons on American Thanksgiving and Black Friday before. I explained, just in case, that we had a day of gratitude followed by a day that was well-known for crazy good deals and sales. I talked about the concepts of consumerism and planned obsolescence, and ended with the radical concept of Buy Nothing Day.
Needless to say, the teenagers were UNIMPRESSED with Buy Nothing Day and thought that Black Friday sounded awesome. I had to laugh at myself for thinking that they’d get behind my goal of reducing consumerism and promoting the idea of making things and spending quality time with people you like.
I don’t truly hate Black Friday – I have a few wonderful memories of getting a ridiculous box of yarn for very little money because of the sales at my local craft store. Still, I do think that when the “reason for the season” after Thanksgiving is all about getting good deals, a bit of the magic of the holidays gets turned into a big old shopping trip.
I still buy gifts for people, especially if I know that they really would like something but are unlikely to get it for themselves, but I do try to spice it up a bit as well: I try to sometimes gift tickets or experience gift certificates, so that someone feels freed to go ziplining or eat at a lovely restaurant because they have the gift certificate. I try to also send Christmas cards… which I need to get started on! I think that sometimes hearing from someone who cares about you is almost more important than getting a thing from them.
At the same time, there is a part of me that wants to make a big deal out of Buy Nothing Day sometime, if I have a friend or family member who wants to sit out the madness on Black Friday… maybe some year my dear ones will be in the mood to hole up with hot cocoa and board games and sit out the doorbusters for a year.