Happy Thanksgiving – And Buy Nothing Day! (and Month?)
MMM-MMM!! I sure hope your Thanksgiving dinner was as delicious as mine. You can see my plate right over there for comparison. Well, to be honest, that was just my first of several plates of deliciousness.
Great food, great times with family, and… a trip out to the shopping mall the next day or even in the middle of the night!?
I’ll have to admit I only came across the concept of “Black Friday” and the associated shopping tradition fairly recently. So I was able to see it for the bizarre ritual that it is.
For those not steeped in this US tradition, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, and people drive to the stores in droves in hopes of buying themselves some things, hopefully at some sort of sale or discount price. The fad has become so extreme that it causes traffic jams, lineups outside of stores at 4:00 AM, and even stampedes and violence as people rush through the store entrance to get the limited-availability specials.
The shopping is partly caused by the approach of “Christmas” (a consumer/shopping event which happens to be named after a major religious holiday), and partly caused by its own existence (people hear that Black Friday is a big shopping day, so they go out and shop, which makes it an even bigger shopping day, which spreads the trend further).
As a reaction to this cultural phenomenon, a smaller movement has sprung up called “Buy Nothing Day”. The idea is that you deliberately stay home on the day after Thanksgiving, and don’t buy anything at all. This obviously works well for me – in fact, I’ve never personally been to ANY store on Black Friday.. because I usually have plenty of food in the house left over from Thanksgiving dinner and thus there is no reason to leave the house to visit a store. If I did happen to actually need something, like a new pair of socks or a frying pan, I would certainly not want to go to the store when everyone else was there, since it would be inefficient to deal with the crowd.
So I just thought we could all celebrate Buy Nothing Day together, and have a Leftover Turkey Sandwich and a cup of tea together today and tomorrow, while we reflect on how crowded the roads and stores must be for our less-fortunate countrymen.
In fact, if you are willing to get really extreme with me, you should consider this wise note that my Dad recently sent out to his four grown kids. Read carefully, for this man is effectively Grandpa Mustache to you:
Since for me a simpler Christmas is a grander Christmas, I’m planning to follow this procedure:
No gifts given to adults or teens (for those who feel they simply must give to me, I suggest a small comestible – preferably home-made! Or a donation to a charity).
Grandpa will be giving to children under twelve.
This helps to avoid stressful shopping and allows folks to focus dollars where really needed.
The best present for me is getting together with you.
Merry (and simple) Christmas!
Isn’t that great? With just one simple email, a senior member of a family can start a chain-reaction of holiday relaxation, where everyone is relieved of the pressure of buying things for each other just because it happens to be a certain time of the year.
Some of you might love the holiday gift-buying tradition and not be ready to give it up.. but others might be carrying on just because of perceived social or family pressure. And many people act on this pressure even when they are drastically unqualified to be buying expensive things for other people – for example, folks who still have car or credit card or student loan debt that hasn’t been paid off.
My advice to everyone who is willing to try it is: try sending a Grandpa Money Mustache email of your own out this week. Let everyone off the hook for buying you gifts. You might find, as my Dad did, that everyone rushes back with a chorus of emails of agreement, and that they are happy to just spend time together, completely independent of buying and exchanging “gifts”.
Let’s shut down the entire retail sector for the holiday season. Leave the roads and the parking lots empty, and fill up the sidewalks and the public parks and the hiking paths instead. Make your holiday decorations out of branches from your own trees and gardens, and make a point of donating whatever time and money you can spare to help someone else. I can guarantee most people won’t follow this advice, but those of us who do will have the best holiday season, all without the help of any markdowns or discounts or sales!
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