This week marks my 32nd Thanksgiving holiday. This week also marks the 32nd time, give or take the few years I was sublimely oblivious to the atrocity of "Black Friday," that I have witnessed a frightening display of consumerism. For those who do not know the term, "Black Friday" is the day after Thanksgiving where people line up outside of stores during the wee hours of the morning to buy stuff...and lots of it.
Each year it seems these lines get more and more vicious as retailers snag people into thinking that this is the ONLY time they will ever find a deal for Christmas Treasures. People have actually been trampled by those who have an irrational fear of missing out on the hot new toy that retailers spend millions of dollars pushing on the unsuspecting public.
The "American way" is to make the holiday season about buying; yet we insist on calling this a season for giving. People go into an extended spending frenzy in an effort to show how much they really care. We're told that caring equals buying. Our spending as a nation is out of hand as it is. We buy billions of dollars of useless products each year in a misguided effort to create better lives for ourselves. If we took the time to actually improve our communities and the lives of those around us then maybe we would be satisfied with who we are as individuals.
Last year (2008) the average consumer in America spent approximately $372.57 on Black Friday at giant retailers. Instead of going on a tirade about the giants and their campaign to get America deeper into debt, it might be better to offer an alternate way to spend your money.
After quite a bit of research, I found the following items on sale. We'll just call this Cicily's Discount Mart. If I had a more sophisticated ad-design software than Microsoft Word, I would circulate an ad across the nation in hopes of having people line up at my door at 3 a.m. for these items.
This year only $372.57 can buy you the following:
(all numbers are approximate)
- 1 month of health care coverage for one person in the United States
*And just so you know, you could be preventing numbers like this from going up:
372: average number of homeless people who die per year in major cities in the US like Los Angeles
372: deaths that take place every 2 months in the United States from preventable disease
I hope to see you on the other side of Black Friday, one in which we decide to spend time with each other, giving of our time and our wealth of individual talents and resources in order to show the true meaning of caring. People, not the stuff they own, are what make this world a better place.