Monday, December 1, 2008

Black Friday -- Rubbish!

As it was so eloquently stated in the New York Times this weekend, Black Friday (as the media likes to call it) isn't about doing good for others. Says the article "Some people think of Black Friday as an abundance of holiday generosity, but in a survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs, 81 percent of the respondents said that they planned to shop for themselves, an army of self-seeking Santas."

"Buying stuff in the teeth of recession represents a vulgar but far too common impulse. Consumption is a core American value, so much so that President Bush suggested people head to the mall after the attacks of Sept. 11 as an expression of solidarity."

This was the same weekend a Wal-mart employee was trampled to death by Black Friday shoppers.

My family and I didn't do the shopping thing. I've never gotten into that. It seems ridiculous to me that one would shop like a sport. We already have everything we need, and most people have it all in the U.S. I have a limit on what I spend for Christmas -- paltry compared to many families. I buy a mix of well-thought-out fun and things people might need -- a new sweater for example. Then we spend money on an experience -- we go somewhere, usually local. And, I also try to donate some money to organizations I believe in -- who do good for the planet or for the arts.

This Thanksgiving (see earlier post) we did just that. No shopping. Just a trek to a botanical garden, ate out, walked the Christmas lights at a local park, and went to the movies. This is still consumerism, but we at least didn't spend money on junk.

The Center for the New American Dream has a terrific, free booklet available to help you enjoy the holidays more joyfully and with less stuff -- download electronically Simplify the Holidays Booklet.

You can also look for additional ideas on donating to charities for the holidays at

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