The weekend after Thanksgiving. There’s Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday, followed by Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. I’m sure there is something on Sunday, but I can’t think of what it is. A weekend full of deals. Deals on stuff, experiences, and everything between. Spend, spend, spend. And while countless people take part in the “festivities,” it’s all the rage these days to poo-poo this weekend. People sharing suggestions on things you should do instead of spending money, ranting about how ridiculous it is to buy a bunch of stuff the day after (or day of) Thanksgiving, and demanding you spend time with your loved ones instead.
I am, generally speaking, pretty anti-stuff. We gave away most of our belongings a few years ago in the pursuit of minimalism. Tried (and failed miserably) to go trash-free awhile back. I try to always buy things I ‘need’ second hand. And while we’ve bent our no Christmas gifts rule, we still don’t do birthday gifts or gifts on any of the other holidays.
But, I don’t mind Black Friday. Dare I say I love it? Yes, it is a ‘holiday’ surrounded by stuff, and on the surface, it shouldn’t interest me. But it really is so much more. I remember as a kid, and still as an adult, my family sitting together on Thanksgiving after we ate, going through the newspaper, and passing around the Black Friday fliers. Even family members who weren’t bargain hunting got a kick out of seeing what stores were offering, and working with cousins to make sure they really were getting the best deal. Laughing together over the scams some stores pretended were deals. Black Friday was a family affair. It gave us something to focus on and talk about, which is always welcome in a strong-willed fight-prone family like mine.
One year my ex-husband and I camped outside of a store for a few hours waiting for a TV. We had family in town and for once and we were able to sneak away for a few hours. It may not seem like much, but it was a perfect little date night. We got to just hang out and talk to each other uninterrupted by children and belly laugh like you do when sleep-deprivation meets adrenaline. We got to meet new people who were waiting in line and learn about them and laugh at the other shenanigans happening around us. We got the TV, but that was such a small part of it all. You want to slow down and be present in the moment? Go stand in line for a few hours with someone you love with nothing to distract you from actually engaging and being present with them (bonus points if you forget to charge your phone and have to be smart with its battery life).
This year I celebrated Thanksgiving the weekend before the holiday as my kids were scheduled to be away with their dad for the actual holiday weekend. This was my first holiday alone. I went to a restaurant for lunch with my great-grandmother, but the rest of the day was silent. I was very thankful to not have social media because I am certain the pitty would have been paralyzing on this day. I considered going out Black Friday shopping that night but stayed home because it just wasn’t the same without someone to go out with. As I laid in bed watching re-runs of Parks and Rec I smiled thinking of last year’s Black Friday, when my mom and I went out on Thanksgiving night (just the two of us without my kids or my young brother) and ran into so many friends from around town. Everyone was in a good mood, and it was like we got to spend a sliver of our holiday with even more people in our lives.
As the weekend has marched on I have carried on without any family or leftovers or any other sentimental things people push when they bash Black Friday. It has given me even more time to reflect on how much I can’t stand the “Black Friday is evil — stay home with your family!” sentiment. There is no family in my home to stay home with. And while my family is great and will be back, I think of the many people who aren’t as lucky. The people who lost a loved one this time of year, or who don’t have a family at all. If they want to go out and look at stuff and be around other people over the long weekend, let them, without reminding them that they “should” be doing something else.
I believe we should be smart consumers. I believe we live in a disturbingly wasteful society. Just because gifts, party favors, and disposable decorations give me anxiety. But to think these purchasing habits only happen this weekend, or that waiting a week makes it any better, misses the mark. I get it; the fear for our oceans, our earth, and our minds. But can we please stop shaming Black Friday and it’s spin-off days? It is not the problem. It’s hardly a drop in the ocean when you look at the big picture.