Apparently, half of all Americans (and quite a few tourists) shopped in US stores last weekend. Between the marketing done by the stores themselves and the massive media P.R., "Black Friday" was a success. According to a local paper, people "stuck to their lists" and "focused on the children," (by buying plasma TVs) to the tune of $16.4 billion. While shopping for bargains and looking for the best deals, consumers managed to snatch up a lot of goods that will be gathering dust by New Year's Day. How much are you really saving, anyway, when you already owe a lot on your credit cards?
As I mentioned here, we observed International Buy Nothing Day instead. As non-believers, my husband and I have always planned to develop fun traditions that keep our son from feeling he is missing out on all the holiday fun. By going out for some fun family antics last Friday, we're off to a good start.
All bundled up, we went to a nearby shopping strip and gave away free unshopping bags (plastic bag handles, bag part removed) while wishing everyone a happy Buy Nothing Day. The video we made (to be edited and posted any day now, really!) shows people laughing as they pass by, but at least they were reminded that not shopping was an option. And several people did stop to chat and take an unbag. My son, who is 5, summed up the day nicely when he said "Don't buy anything today, not even toys! Save your money for important things like groceries, or your home."
Some of the scant press coverage of BND quotes patriotic Americans who are outraged that hippie leftists want to destroy the economy by keeping people out of the malls. Then there are those who think that only cheapskates and misers would avoid going into debt to get gifts their loved ones don't really want anyway. And others are sure it is just a waste of time because everyone must have bought more stuff the next day to compensate.
As misguided as these attitudes are, I feel like I should address them. Maybe I will one of these days. Right now, I'm going to focus on the pleasure my son had on a fun day out with his parents, and think about other fun projects we could do that don't expose him to the crass, commercial underbelly of the holiday season.