for the last three years, my holiday season has began on the night of our annual pumpkin carving contest. my friends and i gather together on this day with pumpkin carving kits in hand and cups full of hot apple cider. this year it was pumpkin flavored everything and jalepeno poppers, cake balls and pigs in a blanket. we spent the night carving away and when everyone was finished we took our pumpkins outside and lit them all up. and then its friendsgiving with failed pinterest desserts and fishbowl drinks that are supposed to be blue but turn out to be a brown sludge. family thanksgiving at my grandma’s with my mom’s homemade banana bread and my aunt’s green bean casserole. picking pecans and spending time with my little cousins. and then it’s my friends and i working together to give in a new way each christmas, gingerbread house decorating with my boyfriend. the first snowfall. eggnog and stockings. the holidays are just oh, so wonderful.
i forgot to mention black friday.
i’ve already seen the deals. ninety-six cent iphone colors, seventy inch big screen tv’s, and every clothing item you could possibly want. toys. purses. games. gadgets. tools. shoes. stuff. stuff. stuff. and on black friday you can buy gifts for all of your family and friends for less than you normally would have to spend. and it’s nice because when you are on a budget, good deals are always your best friend. you can buy more things for more people for less cost. and black friday is also pretty perfect because there will probably be some left over money to even buy yourself a gift. that new sweater. or mustard yellow purse. i get it. i really get it.
but i also get that black friday is a commercial holiday that encourages us to buy. to spend our hard earned money on extra things that we perhaps don’t really need. and of course when you work hard for your money and stay extra hours on the job you should be able to buy and spend the way that you want. that’s not my point. my point is that this day is a made up event that to me, seems to try and take away from my family time and the meaning of our holiday season. black friday tells us that christmas is about gifts and all of the things you want- rather than about family and celebrating what you already have. like i’ve said before, where we spend our money tells a lot about us. i don’t want it to say that i value new items over sitting on the couch listening to my grandpa snore with the television blaring in the background. the material items will always be there. my snoring grandpa however, won’t.
and from what i know, black friday isn’t the only day you can save money. in fact, i really believe that a night dedicated to deals also encourages and leads to overspending. and i feel like it overshadows our thanksgiving- especially when we spend more talking about black friday plans and deals rather than our family thanksgiving plans. and its confusing to me that in the same breath we use to give our thanks, we also use it talk about everything to we want to buy. to me, black friday is the exact opposite of what thanksgiving and christmas are about. i understand that gifts and new toys are important for our little kids, nieces or nephews, but when we get to our twenties and beyond, i hope we’ve learned that the season is actually about family, memories, and traditions.
i prefer to think of black friday as a giving holiday, not a spending one.
and so i’ve started another holiday tradition. on the day after thanksgiving i’ve committed to celebrating my second annual black friday – but perhaps in a way that is different than yours. on this day i turn everything off. my computer, my phone, the tv. i turn off the desire to want, to purchase, to shop. i sit down at the kitchen table and talk with my parents. i brainstorm holiday giving activities. i make holiday crafts. i declutter my closet and room and spend the afternoon finding items to donate. i simplify. i bake zucchini bread with my mom and read a good book at night. my black friday is a simple day. and i don’t spend a single cent.
this holiday season, i hope you remember that christmas in fact, is not your birthday (unless of course it is your actual birthday).
can you challenge yourself to let go of the desire to buy more stuff and spend more quality time celebrating with those you hold dearly in your heart instead? can you let go of your attachment to the material world and focus on creating new experiences and memories? can your wish list be about things you want to do for others?
can it be about family memories you’d like to create?
can it be about something besides the new item you want to buy…the same item that you’ll probably be throwing or giving away the next year?
on this black friday, i hope you’ll join me.
i’d love to hear about it if you do.
and if you do choose to spend your night shopping, by all means, enjoy it. but make the most out of your holiday season in a way that adds meaning to your life.
stay tuned for my favorite holiday giving ideas.