Let me start out by saying that I am a gift giver. I love giving presents that bring people joy. It’s my “love language” as they say. But, every year about this time, I start to go on a rant about consumerism. This year is a little bit different though.
I used to be 100% opposed to Black Friday. I despised all that it stood for and wondered at the irony of how quickly we shift from being thankful to being, well…greedy. I’ve been doing more thinking about it recently and while I haven’t necessarily changed my position, my outlook has shifted. I still don’t like it. Especially when I hear stories of people using pepper spray to ensure that they get the product they want. Or grandfathers being slammed to the ground by police, traumatizing grandchildren. In fact, the violence this year is reported as being the worst ever. You begin to wonder if the gifts that people are fighting over will even be remembered by this time next year. Chances are, they won’t.
On the other hand, it is prudent to steward your money wisely. If you can save 50% on something that you are going to buy anyway, why not take advantage of the sales? My laptop computer died on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I need a new one because I use my computer to work from home. We were able to get a deal and spent 1/3 of what our alloted budget was for it. We happened to do it online, but if we wanted to stand in line for it, that would be our business.
I also support spending money locally. I love the idea of Small Business Saturday. When I lived in Olympia, I used to go to Duck the Malls every year. I found wonderful gifts which supported local artisans. (It’s coming up next weekend, so if you are in the area, check it out!)
Another thing I have started to consider is the tradition that some people enjoy. My sister-in-law goes out with her sisters every year. They love it. They get to spend time together and enjoy eachothers company while saving money on gifts they will likely buy anyway.
My issue with Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the all of the consumerism that surrounds the holidays really boils down to a heart issue. If you are buying things and spending money on a gift just because it’s on sale, it doesn’t make sense to me. I promise you that people who love you would much rather have your time. A couple of years ago, I gave my step-mom a hand made gift certificate for a date to afternoon tea at the Phoenician Resort in Phoenix, where she lives. Yes, in the end, I still spent money — and I knew that it would be months before we would actually do it (it was May by the time I got to Phoenix). But, that afternoon we spent together will forever be in our memories — a bigger treasure than any material thing I could have purchased for that same price.
And, then there is the reality that despite our current economic situation, we are still the richest country in the world. In the midst of cries of “we are the 99%”, we still have managed to spend around $54 billion between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
To the rest of the world, we are the 1%.
These folks say it better than I ever could. I’ve been trying to live by the Advent Conspiracy values for many years now. I still give gifts. I just approach it differently now.