buy nothing day
I can remember when the day after Thanksgiving was the day when suddenly "poof" beautiful Christmas themes displays arrived in store windows. We would make special trips to see the displays in San Francisco, but even the display in the town we lived in were bright and magical.
Time passed. I became Wiccan (as a teenager) and then converted to Judaism in my mid twenties. (I also flirted a lot with Buddhism and still do, as you can probably tell, reading my blog. However, I have never been religiously Buddhist.) I remained open minded and loving towards all religions. But I also became less and less interested in "stuff" and the accumulation of more stuff.
And as I get older, Christmas in America feels like it is more a worship of the accumulation of stuff and less a religious holy day. (I have many Christian friends who I know agree with me. "Keep the Christ in Christmas" was a popular bumper sticker in Mobile.)
But American culture being what it is, every year Christmas decorations and store displays start being put up earlier and earlier. This year, many of my friends saw them before Halloween had even passed. Even in September!
And the magic of the day after Thanksgiving went from being a day of wonder and awe to a day of sleeping in line, waiting for the doors to open so that one could "celebrate" black Friday.
I have to admit, I don't understood the appeal. Not only am I not a morning person, I cannot understand "battling" crowds in order to score a slightly cheaper than usual item. (And I personally think most of the "sale" prices are made up out of thin air, but I'm willing to concede that some of them are actually really amazing.)
And so, for as long as I have known about it (which is at least ten years and possibly longer), I have joined in with those who celebrate the day after Thanksgiving as "Buy Nothing Day." It's quite easy actually (because I let myself buy groceries or go out and do stuff - like go to a museum or the movies). I just don't participate in the crush of BUYING ALL THE THINGS! which we're encouraged to do today.
It helps a lot that we don't give gifts for Hanukkah except one gift for Remy - which I bought a few weeks ago on amazon. It's a new Lego set, since that's what he always wants these days. And it has ewoks, which. come. on. ewoks!
But we don't buy gifts for our extended family. We don't exchange gifts with our parents or our siblings. It took a few years of awkwardness (and living in a different country for a few years helped a lot), but we finally were able to completely stop that cycle of gift exchange.
We did it for two reasons: one was related to minimalism (that we didn't need most of the things we were given and more things = more things to pack which was a aserious pain in the ass when we kept having to move so much) and the second reason being that Hanukkah really isn't a major holiday. We don't feel like we need to bigify Hanukkah to compete with Christmas.
I have friends who wait in line and get deals. I have friends who don't. Every person makes their own decisions. I don't need to have friends who make the same decisions I do! But I make the decision that works best for me and once again, this year, I choose to Buy Nothing.
(But I will admit, I am going to be buying a replacement for my iPod touch - a 5" galaxy player - for my birthday. Which will probably be purchased sometime this weekend, online. It's a purchase I have been researching for awhile.)