In the U.S., Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — is the biggest shopping day of the year. It’s called “Black Friday” because it is the day when retailers historically make all the money they need to go “into the black” for the year. To some, however, that date exemplifies the worst of American culture, when people get up before dawn to go fight in the aisles of big-box retailers to give harried workers the lowest price for unneeded goods made in unfair-trade factories around the world — and every year, it seems, a riot breaks out, resulting in someone’s family member being dead for the holidays.
Gee, doesn’t sound very merry, does it?
To make this point, people around the world are participating in Buy Nothing Day on Friday, November 27. Participation is pretty simple: Buy nothing that day. Especially, don’t participate in the mindless consumer frenzy to which we are encouraged by ads and news articles that imply that whether we shop till we drop on Friday will make or break the economy.
If you want to go further, the event organizers are also calling for a “Wildcat Strike” in which people are urged not to drive their cars, turn on the lights or use anything related to our consumer society.
I have to say that I don’t usually participate in Black Friday buying. I have gone shopping on that day in the past, and despite all the negatives, there is something festive about people who are genuinely happy to be out buying surprises to bring their loved ones joy. On the other hand, I don’t hit the stores at 5 a.m., and the idea of human beings trampling others in their rush to get a deal is sick. And by the afternoon, people tend to get crabby rather than joyful.
Typically, on Black Friday, we are more likely to be at home, watching a movie and working on handmade gifts. This year I am making several gifts for family members, and even Mlle. Cheap is getting in on the act. Mr. Cheap is hoping to have time to make a replica of a simple item that retails for $200 for Mlle. Cheap’s Christmas pile.
This year, we’ll be on the road tomorrow, visiting my grandparents — a worthy use of a few gallons of gas and a meal out so that Grandma won’t have to clean up from dinner.
Are you a Black Friday shopper? Or a Buy Nothing devotee? Or somewhere in between?