Today is the big day in the US—Black Friday. A day that retail executives relish. A day that is sheer hell for retail employees. Malls are packed, Wal-Marts overflow with slack-jawed, glazed-eyed Americans scooping up bargains in a mindless consumerism daze. It’s a sick and disturbing sight.
Years ago I worked one Black Friday for my mall job (I was in graduate school, completely broke, and in desperate need of a job that I could call out from on a moment’s notice). I was horrified as I watched hordes of people shoving each other, grasping at cheap crap made by the world’s poor, and growling at their fellow humans—all in the name of holiday cheer.
Exhausted and deeply saddened after my shift, I went home and called my parents. I told them that I wouldn’t be buying them anything for Christmas. I would make something for each of them (we do come from a talented family crafts-wise), but I wasn’t going to participate in this consumer frenzy any more. I expected a fight. We do Christmas in my family. To my surprise, I didn’t get it. They thought it was a great idea. I called my sister and told her about it, and we agreed that we would each make gifts for the other members of the family. That Christmas was one of the best ones we have ever had (we’ve never had a tradition of inviting freaks over for Christmas dinner), and we’ve kept up the tradition ever since. Sometimes we buy fun things for each other (I tend to try to find a tacky gift for everyone for laughs) and stocking stuffers, but the big gift remains the homemade present.
Adbusters has been sponsoring Buy Nothing Day as an alternative to Black Friday for quite some time now. I have a different take on it. Today I will go to local businesses and get supplies to make gifts this year. It’s a tradition I recommend trying out.