This week marks the beginning of the traditional holiday shopping season, starting with “Black Friday” the day after Thanksgiving. This year, Black Friday is spilling over onto Thanksgiving, with more stores open at midnight and some even opening for Black Friday on Thanksgiving night!
One Target employee, aggravated with his family day of thanks cut short, started a petition on Change.org to pressure Target (and presumably other big national chains) to allow employees to truly have a day off:
“A midnight opening robs the hourly and in-store salary workers of time off with their families on Thanksgiving Day. By opening the doors at midnight, Target is requiring team members to be in the store by 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation — all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night’s rest on Thanksgiving!
“Join me in calling for Target retail stores to push back their original opening time of 5am on Black Friday.”
One of the signers of the petition, Deborah Schwartz of Hoboken, NJ, gives her reasoning for adding her name:
I’m so tired of turning on the news the Monday after Black Friday and having to hear about how much money the big retailers did or didn’t make. As if that’s the point of our year-end holidays. I’m tired of Christmas being promoted BEFORE Halloween. I’m sick and tired of these attempts to brainwash us into thinking Christmas is about how much money we spend. Every American has the right to spend Thanksgiving with their families…
When using my Allrecipes.com app on my smartphone, I ran across another grassroots effort to keep Thanksgiving as a non-commercial holiday called “Respect the Bird”:
Respect the Bird supporters have a mission. They are determined to ruffle feathers as much as possible and restore Thanksgiving to its rightful place as a meaningful, respected American holiday, not one that’s merely a one-day delicious afterthought between Halloween and Christmas. Tapping into its original roots—thankfulness, a celebration of friendships, family, and gifts from the earth—Respect the Bird supporters want to create a Thanksgiving experience extending beyond meal planning. It is, after all, one of the treasured holidays that’s not about spending.
“I hope it sets a precedence that the holiday be celebrated by sharing thanks and good food with friends and family, not Black Friday shopping!” – Doug Matthews, Allrecipes.com Community Member and Leader of the Respect the Bird movement
If you’re tired of the commercialization of the holidays, here are a few alternatives.
- Wait until Small Business Saturday. I’ve written before about the movement to support small, local businesses. By paying perhaps a little more for aspirin at a local pharmacy instead of a national chain, you leave more money in the community where you live, in the form of wages, sales tax and the community involvement that many small businesses engage in. As an extension of this effort, this year the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been designated as “Small Business Saturday.” You can find out more here, or take the pledge to Shop Small or find retailers in your zip code here. “If millions of Americans shop small, it will be huge.”
- Give a Charitable Gift Certificate. A new survey from the Red Cross shows that 79% of respondents agreed that “they would rather have a charitable donation in their honor than get a gift they won’t use.” So you make the donation but let them pick the recipient. JustGive is an online web site that allows you to purchase charity gift certificates. you pick the amount and receive a ncie card to present to the recient. they go online and pick which charity they would like to receive the money. On Cyber Monday (Nov. 28th), JustGive is waiving their usual fees and the service is free. Great alternative to stocking stuffers and dust collectors.
- Join or Form a “Cash Mob.” Take Small Business Saturday right through the end of the year. On NPR this weekend I heard a story about a “cash mob” and was absolutely intrigued. According to this press release,”Cash mob plans to gather on specific days at 6:00 at a predetermined location and target a store in the area. It must be locally owned, have products for both men and women and have parking. The store must be civic minded. Armed with at least $20 each, the “mob” will make purchases at the assigned location in a show of support for their neighborhood businesses.” What? Awesome. I’m thinking of organizing a cash mob in Mount Prospect, IL, where I live. How fun would it be to do your holiday shopping–especially the “hostess gifts, teacher gifts, people who bought you something and you need something to give them back gifts”–through this whimsical approach. Facebook seems perfect to organize this…
What other ideas do you have that are an alternative to commercial holiday celebrations? How do you keep your priorities straight during the frenzied consumer free-for-all that is December? Do share.