Last weekend I was riding the King County Metro bus when a nice man who had recently moved to Seattle from Taiwan asked me to tell him about Thanksgiving. I started in about how we get together with people we love, engage in gluttony, etc., etc.
He said, “Uh, but I mean, what about the day after Thanksgiving? Tell me about the sales.” At which point I realized I’d never been anywhere near a place of commerce on Black Friday. I grew up on a farm, and, well, we just don’t like people or commerce enough to risk leaving the house.
Then this week I discovered an organized ritual against the wanton post-T-day, pre-Christmas consumption of holiday-related paraphernalia: Buy Nothing Day.
It seems as if the only requirement for celebrating this holiday is that you can’t buy anything. Sounds simple enough. Others have gone so far as to get arrested in honor of the day, protest outside Wal-Mart, or organize a free store.
But it doesn’t have to be a public event. You can stay home and knit, have lots of wild sex with your SO, or bake cookies for your grandma (or all three!).
And unlike other holidays, the point of Buy Nothing Day isn’t to limit it to just one day, it’s to promote through example a model of thinking beyond the accepted American custom of going buck wild with spending for the holidays. As Adbusters, one of the big promoters of the day puts it:
Buy Nothing Day isn’t just about changing your habits for one day. It’s about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste. With six billion people on the planet, the onus is on the most affluent – the upper 20 percent that consumes 80 percent of the world’s resources – to begin setting the example.
Gristmill readers, what do you plan on doing to celebrate this Friday?