November 28-Black Friday
To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common–this is my symphony. [William Henry Channing’s Symphony: some background, and its appearance in an Arthur Brisbane editorial – from the 1906 collection, “Editorials From The Hearst Newspapers”]
Black Friday denotes the start of the frenzied shopping season leading up to Christmas. Malls will be crawling with zombie-like shoppers clawing for bargains and sales. Stores open as early as 4:00am plying customers with free coffee and snacks to entice them to open wallets, pocketbooks and zip credit cards. There is a general tsunami of overspending. There is stress. There may be momentary joy at finding a perfect gift but sorrow as the bill comes in the mail in January.
While some of us (not me) love to shop and go to malls and get caught in the crush of a holiday crowd (not me), the rest of us will be celebrating the beginning of the holiday season in different quieter more meaningful ways. I’ve put together a little list of activities for those not participating in Black Friday and would welcome comments.
1. Clean out your closet and donate to Goodwill or a shelter.
2. Take a turn about your yard and gather leaves, branches, and seed heads and make a fall arrangement for your table or altar. Make two and give one to your neighbor.
3. Make pancakes for breakfast. Savor the sweetness of a quiet morning. Make cookies or bread. Making soup is akin to zen. Marvel at your real gifts of food and family.
4. Clean. Dust. Vaccum. Prepare your home or room or apartment for the coming winter months by cleaning clutter and corners.
5. Discover things around your home to sell on ebay. Clean your bookshelf and sell at half.com. Create money instead of spending it.
6. Satisfy your shopping urges by shopping via calaloges. Clip catalog photos of items you would like to have and pretend you’re purchasing them. Often we simply need a distraction to keep us out of a store.
7. If you must shop, find a thrift mart or second hand store. Unique gifts can be purchased for very little. Ten dollars goes A LONG way in a thrift mart or church or charity sponsored shop. And you’re doing something beneficial for the community. Buying second hand extends the life of an item and keeps it out of landfills.
8. Instead of purchasing “stuff”, shop at the market and donate food purchases to a food bank.
9. Review your gift list and identify people who would appreciate a donation made in their name to Meals on Wheels, Free Wheelchair Ministry, Toys for Tots, or other charitable donations. Fill out a Christmas card and send to them with a note that says, “In honor of you and your family, a donation to Meals on Wheels has been made in your name.”
10. Give more- spend less. Give of your time and talents. Learn a few Christmas carols and play at a retirement home, school or church. Offer to cook or serve for charities this holiday season. drive an elderly neightbor to the store. Rake leaves for your grandmother. Put a dollar in the red kettle. Put quarters in bubble gum machines as a treasure for children. Sponsor a donation night combined with a charity for one or more of your performances. Define your gifts and use them to help others.