Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday-shopping season. It’s called Black Friday: On this day, we racing rats are expected to hit the malls and spend, spend, spend until we drop. Consumers are encouraged to start their spending sprees at Thanksgiving Day sales. How nice: Forget helping at the soup kitchen, skip the parades and football games, ditch the family celebrations, the ads seemed to demand. Instead hit the stores and get a jump on giving your cash to retailers.
Am I alone in finding this disgusting?
Let me answer my own question: No.
As has been the case in previous years, Adbusters is promoting its International Buy Nothing Day. On this day, people are encouraged to avoid the malls and to give retailers the slip. Keep your money in your wallet instead.
From the Adbusters site:
For 24 hours, millions of people around the world do not participate — in the doomsday economy, the marketing mind-games, and the frantic consumer-binge that’s become our culture. We pause. We make a small choice not to shop. We shrink our footprint and gain some calm. Together we say: Enough is enough. And we help build this movement to rethink our unsustainable course.
I think that sounds sensible and sane. Why participate in a fiscal fad that adds little that is positive to our spirits and souls?
So what should we do on Thanksgiving (aka Indigenous Persons Day)? Here are some ideas:
- Enjoy the games, movies and books you already own.
- Study Native American culture and honor these historically maligned people.
- Exercise: Take a walk in the park. Better yet, take a walk to the park.
- Walk through the mall and smile at all the poor consumerist suckers.
- Do activism—write those letters to lawmakers you’ve put off.
- Give away something you don’t need anymore.
- Spend the day volunteering at a food bank.
- Take time to actually give thanks.
Of course, the list is only a starting point. There are plenty of productive and fun things to do.
And if you find one day of mall avoidance to be edifying and satisfying, why not go for the entire holiday season? You know, it is entirely possible to have a happy Buy Nothing Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanza.
As Adbusters says, "Buy Nothing Day is only one day. Our earth, our minds, our communities deserve more than that. So this year, let’s take the fun, passion and message of BND and spin it to inspire a whole shop-free season! Gather family and friends, let’s rise above the consumer binge and celebrate."
This year, whatever winter holiday you celebrate, give yourself a gift and do some good for your community, your nation and your world: Spend the season focused on what really matters.