This post was originally published November 19, 2008 and has been slightly updated/modified for 2009.
I love this time of year, because my family has a tradition of camping at the beach for the long Thanksgiving weekend. My dad smokes a turkey and we have a big potluck dinner with our friends and family who are camping with us.
Then Friday, we usually hang around the campsite, often looking at the newspaper ads and laughing about the ridiculous deals that shoppers will have woken at the crack of dawn to chase after. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a bit of shopping on Black Friday (just usually not early in the morning) over the years, but generally shopping is not a hobby of mine.
That said, I wanted to point out a really fun, positive alternative to shopping on Black Friday, whether for lack of a love of shopping or a distinct desire to swim against the tide of American consumerism. If you’ve read my Christmas Manifesto series, you have an idea about how I want to simplify Christmas and make it less commercial, more homemade, and overall, more joyful.
That’s why this year I’m (again) boycotting the rampant consumerism on the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, I’m taking part in Make Something Day, which is a movement that began as “Buy Nothing Day,” a simple boycott of Black Friday. It has, however, grown into something a little bigger, as you can read in the mission as found on the website:
In response to the over-consumptive habits of western culture, Adbusters magazine has been promoting Buy Nothing Day for years now. The Friday after Thanksgiving in the U.S. is typically marked as the busiest shopping day for Americans. But we live in a world that can no longer handle our consumptive habits here in the west. And while we pile up on things we don’t need a large portion of the world exists without basic human needs being met every day. We applaud Buy Nothing Day… but it isn’t enough for us. We believe that giving is a central part of being human. So, we replaced the negative with something positive: Make Something Day. Go ahead and give gifts this holiday season. As they say, giving is better than receiving. But that doesn’t mean buying something is. So, we encourage folks to avoid shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Instead, stay home, put a log on the fire and try making something for someone.
I’m really excited about being involved in this movement this year, a year when frugality is more common and acceptable than in a long time, due to a failing economy. Now is the perfect time to decide to change the way we think about giving. I’ll be honest and say I love the thought of a Christmas morning filled with fun, store-bought gifts, but I’m sort of forcing myself to refocus my expectations and desires in order to create a more simplified holiday season, and to really enjoy the act of giving.
And on a related note, if you haven’t yet, make sure you watch Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff.