I’ve been hearing a lot of negativity about Black Friday lately. I’ve honestly never liked Black Friday. It has a reputation as being a holiday of consumerism, materialism, greed, and even violence. The media is peppered with reports of attacks and people being literally trampled to death, in between advertisements for “Doorbusting Deals”. It’s all rather sickening.
And yet, I can’t help but feel like this doesn’t have to be one of those “all or nothing” scenarios. Can we make sense of the madness without choosing one side or another? I was so disappointed to learn that one of my favorite local businesses was going to be closed on Black Friday. Of all the days that a sustainable living shop that carried local products should be open as an alternative to big box stores like Walmart, who hurt people, they will be closed.
I GET that people don’t agree with consumerism. After all, it teaches us to constantly buy things, to place importance on belongings, to base our happiness on our possessions, and to dispose of things that otherwise might be perfectly fine. But are we so far gone that we really believe we can live in a system without purchasing things? Even native cultures trade. Should we not buy gifts for our families at all? What about people who have to shop on Black Friday, just so they can afford holiday gifts for their families? And how does our consumerism impact or reflect on worldwide poverty?
I feel like the answer is very simple. If our economic climate insists on creating a holiday based on shopping (and that’s what it is- it’s a holiday celebrated at the same time each year by the same traditions), then we need to reinvent it.
Therefore, let Black Friday not be about condoning the value that our belongings are responsible for our happiness. Instead, let’s buy less, and focus on the joy of giving. Learn to make small gifts, and teach your children how to make gifts.
Let Black Friday be about giving to those who have less. Consider giving to your local abused person’s shelter, animal shelters, religious charities, and children’s organizations. If 5 people give $20, that’s $100 towards those who need it most.
Skip Black Friday and shop on “Small Business Saturday”. Shop at locally run and owned businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Usually those businesses carry locally made products, or products made here in the US. If you cannot find such things, consider if the product is made responsibly- that is, fair trade, without child labor, and without a heavy carbon footprint.
Don’t let Black Friday be an excuse to make bad choices. Wear your seat belt and drive carefully without distractions. If the weather is bad, stay home. Don’t attend door-busters or spend the night camped outside of a store. Don’t take out debt with credit cards.
And perhaps MOST importantly, above all else, let your THANKFULNESS that you had from the preceding day, exude into your mindfulness as you conduct your business. Be polite, be gracious, help others, smile, and be thoughtful.