Black Friday is NOT a holiday. It is the day after Thanksgiving. Which is a holiday. A holiday in which we celebrate the things we are grateful for. We encourage our sweet, greedy little monsters to move away from being grateful for all the stuff and instead notice, and then be grateful, that they have a warm bed, that they have a full table, that they are surrounded by loved ones. We celebrate and record for posterity their sweet little utterances about being grateful for having Grammy and Grandpa to read them stories, or being grateful that their kitties sleep on their beds.
And then… Bam! It’s Friday and some families rush out the door at 5 a.m. to buy buy buy! Stuff! More stuff. The ruminations of Thursday forgotten until next year. Because right now, OMG! Did you hear that Target-Best Buy-WalMart are offering iPads for $199?! Go, quick, right now, be first!
Calm the #!*@ down! These things do not matter. They don’t. Remember what we said yesterday? What matters is us. You, me, our sweet babies, our neighbors. That we are together, that we have enough and that we can wrap each other up in love and comfort. Remember, love and comfort? The kitties on the foot of the bed? The stories?! No? Huh.
This year, I propose we all do something else. I’m not the only one proposing something else. There is a national movement. It’s called National Buy Nothing Day. Do it. Buy nothing. Exercise your best brand of family togetherness. Yes, one more day of this grateful togetherness. You can do it! Maybe it’s not whole family togetherness, because really, another day of obnoxious Uncle Larry or, dare I say it, your mother-in-law? But some version of you and your family, and buy nothing. Just be together. I think it’s okay to admit that maybe we just can’t stomach whole family togetherness. But choose the ones who are palatable and do something with them. Try to include your children. The sweet little monsters.
For my family, it will be outside. If the weather is crummy, we may not go big, but we will ramble around my mother’s beautiful acreage and then we’ll scurry back inside for cocoa and hot cider and turkey sandwiches. Really, we will. Even the cocoa part is true. If the weather is better than crummy, we’ll hike. We’ll explore our gorgeous back yard that is Oregon’s wilderness. Not too far from the Portland Metro area. Even some beautiful wilderness that is Portland. Think Forest Park or Tryon Creek State Park or Hoyt Arboretum, or or or, the list goes on. Go ahead, Google it. The folks at REI think it’s a good idea too. They’re closing their doors and encouraging us to #optoutside. It’s a good idea. I suspect that you will not regret it.
I’m not saying don’t buy anything ever. I’m not suggesting that you opt out of holiday giving or even holiday buying. I am suggesting, though, that you stop and think about it. Think about your sweet babies and what message you want to send to them. Think about your family values. The values of your tribe. Do not hide behind the “I just can’t get my mother-in-law to stop buying so much stuff,” or “We just have such a big family and once they’ve all given something, there is a mountain of gifts.” We too have a mountain of gifts. A mountain of gifts does not mean that you can’t teach your children that your family time is more important than the stuff. You can. By your own actions, by what you choose to emphasize. By what you choose to give and by the way you choose to shop and by the way you choose to receive. Show them. You are their moral compass. You. They’re watching. All. The. Damn. Time.
Buy slowly and buy locally and then spend all day opening. Or two days if your mountain is that large. Around our Christmas tree, when a kiddo opens a present, we stop and we play with it. We show each other. We talk about the books that are unwrapped. Sometimes we take the time to snuggle up on the couch and read together. We open the puzzle box and put it together, trying not to lose one of those painfully tiny pieces in the mountains of paper and ribbons.
You can donate gifts or volunteer at a soup kitchen or bring “an unwrapped, new toy for girl age 8” to the local scout troop, but just as important, or more important is what happens around your table and in your own living room. Show them what matters to you by your actions. The moral compass, remember? They’re watching you.
I’d love to hear your family traditions around gratefulness and appreciation. How do you show your littles that they, and the rest of your family are more important to you than the stuff?