Nov 16, 2007

I see black

Black Friday approaches. It comes every year, lurking in the press, on TV, on in-store ads. Black Friday is here.
The day after Thanksgiving has become the busiest shopping day of the year. It's name is symbolic of what happens in retail sales across our nation and in the Western world at large. On November 23rd (assuming the trend continues) many retailers will finally, "go into the black," and begin making a profit for the year. Some companies will see the biggest sales day of the year. Some will make more on one single day than they will the rest of the year. But to me, Black Friday is black for wholly different reasons.
Now, I want to assure all of our friends that I am a big supporter of the Free Market. I believe that it is the best economic system available, but to think it is flawless is naive. My problem with Black Friday is not with the retailers as much as it is with the mentality behind all involved, which is why, this year, we will be celebrating "Buy Nothing Day."
The want monster in our world is enormous and I cannot think of a better way to make it smaller than to not participate in the madness of Black Friday. I know people that are going shopping at 4 AM so they can get "the best stuff, first." They plan on staying at the mall, "all day," because they want to make sure they see everything. These people are some of the most wealthy I know. They have obscenely large houses and drive expensive cars, while the more expensive cars sit in the garage, and buy more than they will ever need. Why do they do it? Because they are convinced that MORE will fill the void in their souls. Spending, saving, and simple living are spiritual acts. It is inescapable. How we spend mirrors the condition of our soul.
Do I mean that we cannot spend and be spiritually okay? No. I am saying that the reasons behind our spending are bound to our beliefs about ourselves, our beliefs about our worth, and our beliefs about what life is really about. As I have said before, the entitlement mentality of our nation cannot be overstated and it is wholly and disgustingly visible on Black Friday.
So, let us all consider--every time we take out our wallet--why we are spending. Do I need this? Is this useful? Who will have less because I buy this? Is there some way that I could impact the world more positively than buying this? Let us be sure that our souls are full and that our lives are rich, not matter what we have or do not have. Last of all, please consider joining our family in "Buy Nothing Day" this year. Speak loudly, without words, and stand against the insatiable want monster.


grace said...

Great post! I trying to mostly handmade gifts this year. This overconsumerism is crazy!

Anonymous said...

Yay! I love Buy Nothing Day!

I am celebrating Christmas for the first time in a decade, and Buy Nothing Day is a holdover from my Christmas resistance days.

Have you guys read "Unplug the Christmas Machine"? It is a FANTASTIC book.

It inspired me to make some really good and clear-cut rules about the holidays. For example, we give three gifts and three stocking stuffers to each person within our household, in honor of the gifts of the Magi. This has made the gifting part of Christmas SO.MUCH.EASIER.


(Oh, and P.S., check out American Science and Surplus- Google it- for some incredible gifts for older kids, especially boys. Inexpensive, unique, and very cool.)

Matt said...


I haven't read "Unplug..." yet, but it's on my list now. Thanks for the head's up. We're totally in the middle of the Christmas madness right now. Thank God we don't have TV. If we did, it might be unmanageable.


Caren said...

I just got my used copy of "Hundred Dollar Holiday: the Case for a More JOYFUL Christmas" by Bill McKibben. I haven't read it yet, but I think it would be an interesting addition to your conversation. I did buy a cup of tea yesterday, but that was it! ;)