Sunday, November 20, 2011
Buy Nothing Day 2011
I'm appalled by the decision of some large retailers to open their stores on Thanksgiving to extend the time for what is usually the traditional Black Friday sales. Black Friday is bad enough, having gone from frantic buying frenzy to the kind of insanity that results in injuries and even death. Why diminish the value of Thanksgiving, which doesn't have any shopping other than food associated with it, by turning it into part of an annual high-pressure spending event?
Although the concept of simple living seems to be more popular each year and the necessity to cut back on spending is definitely increasing for most families, we still can't shake the idea that buying stuff is the primary focus of the holiday season. So, I'll mention once again the sanity-saving holiday, Buy Nothing Day, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. One day, November 25th, in which we make the decision not to spend our money. At all. Period. It's like a one-day fast: enough to make you aware of what you're doing, not enough to cause you any harm. It also keeps you out of the Black Friday madness.
But, realizing that we can't go forever without buying anything, after our one-day fast let's also consider being more conscious of how and where we do spend our money. Small Business Saturday, on November 26th, advocates shopping in locally-owned, non-chain stores. The two-year-old initiative is sponsored by the big business American Express in support of its small merchant customers. A company spokesman explains that by next year it will become "a part of the holiday tradition nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday."
Yes, Cyber Monday is now an "official day," too. The term was invented in 2005 by Shop.org, part of the U.S. trade association National Retail Federation when it was noted that "millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked."
I doubt that we'll return anytime soon to the days when a joyful holiday season wasn't associated with spending massive amounts of hard-earned cash on everything from gifts to decorations to a new holiday wardrobe, followed by months of deprivation while trying to pay off the bills. But as some of us continue to spread the idea of restraint, maybe more of us will start to be mindful of our spending choices. Spending is a choice, once you've taken care of survival necessities, and while everyone is entitled to make their own choices, I know that camping out for a full week to snag a few Black Friday deals isn't one I'd make. Would you?