I saw this great cartoon the other day. “Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” Funny, but true.
Now don’t accuse me of being a humbug. I like to celebrate the holidays just as much as anybody else. Although when it comes to gift giving, I do prefer a somewhat more measured approach than is apparently the American norm.
I like to think of the gifts we give at the holidays as the little sprinkles on top of a huge, already delicious cake. The cake, of course, is the celebration of the event itself, spending time with those we love (and remembering those we miss), and reflecting on the true reason why the holiday exists in the first place.
In the spirit of “It’s the holiday, not the stuff, that’s really important,” do you know that the Friday after Thanksgiving — in addition to being Black Friday, probably of the biggest shopping day of the year — is also officially Buy Nothing Day? Buy Nothing Day has been celebrated for the past 20 years by folks here in the United States and around the world who are trying in our own little way to put the focus back on the true meaning of the holiday season, and less importance of the materialistic aspects of those special days in our lives. Yep, Buy Nothing Day is just that: One day out of the year when we commit to do just that — not shop.
Oh, sure, I know some of you may think that my cheapskate philosophy of life and things like “Buy Nothing Day” will be the downfall of the U.S. and world economies. But I’ve also read that every day of the year each of us is bombarded by roughly 5,000 commercial messages — everything from captivating commercials on TV to promotional slogans on t-shirts and cereal boxes — all shouting “Buy some more stuff! Spend some more money!”
So, certainly, a little minnow-sinker on the other end of the line — a tiny, one-day commercial advertisement of just the opposite — “don’t buy anything for one day,” isn’t going to upend the global marketplace. Maybe it will make people stop and think for just a minute about what’s really important about the holidays and about life, which so often are those things that come without a price tag.
I think Dr. Seuss and his Grinch said it best:
“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. The Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, he thought, means a little bit more.”