I was so lucky that growing up I was taught to be frugal, use what we had, and not pine (too much) for that which we didn't have. We struggled financially, but we never went hungry, and most of all, we were loved "to the moon and back." I'm so grateful for that, because from that consistent heartbeat of my childhood I know I have the tools and resources to pass those values along to my own child.
Thanksgiving. It's a time of reflection-- of gratitude for health and home, family and friends. It's also a time of decision making. Do what your country tells you to do: shop, shop hard, shop fierce, shop often. Shop on Thanksgiving Eve, Thanksgiving Day, the day after. Cyber Monday, countdown to Christmas, shop shop shop.
Every year the Christmas music starts seeping into our consciousness earlier and earlier; this year I heard Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in a Rite-Aid before Halloween. Certainly, we are in a struggling economy and the stores are doing whatever they can to lure in shoppers' tight holiday budgets. This year, I have a particularly strong wave of disgust for the new lengths the box-shops are going to in order to get to the consumers first-- even if it means making your staff go to work on Thanksgiving, since apparently Black Friday now begins on Thursday (or a week ago, were you to see all the junk mail piling up in my gmail inbox).
The media manages to support this frenzy. They find the box-store employees who are obviously happy for the overtime that will show up in their paychecks (presumably so they can shop), and you hear the soundbites of their refrains over and over again: "I'm one of the lucky ones, I have a job." Well, I hope you don't get trampled by the onslaught of "consumers" as they barrel down your doors at midnight, before their turkey is fully digested.
I'm sitting this one out. I've felt the fever before. I've wanted to hit the stores and find those deals. Who doesn't want to be done with their Christmas shopping early and spend less money doing so? You probably have the day off, so what else is a better thing to do besides get out and there and shop? Go shopping! Now! Some of you will go shopping, and I implore you that if you do decide to go shopping on Black Friday, consider your personal decision making process. Pick one indie business and spread your budget to the David's of the Perpetual Holiday Season David and Goliath fight. Should I spend money at Dinosaur Hill on East 9th Street, the toy shop that gives Jamie a little yoyo on Halloween since he was a baby trick or treating (and whose owner remembers his name), or Wal-Mart because it's a "steal"? Steal is a good word for it. The frenzy threatens to steal your quaint Main Streets; take away your valuable family time; put you into a debt cycle that is nearly impossible to break free from.
Take a hike. Read a book. Do nothing. Volunteer yourself to simplicity, and the rewards are far greater than what's in the bag.