Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Leaving Behind Black Friday & Cyber Monday

There was one thing that I didn't tell you in yesterday's post about my weekend, because it kind of felt like a separate story in its own right. And as I was contemplating telling you about it today I discovered one of those "happy coincidences" that always seems to pop up in my life, and so now here we are.

As you're probably aware, the weekend after Thanksgiving is book-ended by "Black Friday" (when retailers offer crazy in-store deals, and people come out in droves to start their Christmas shopping) and "Cyber Monday" (when stores offer their online deals.)

Now, Cyber Monday I actually don't have a problem with. I'm all about the online shopping anyway, so if people want to take advantage of good deals from the comfort of their home, more power to them. Black Friday, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I've never shopped a Black Friday sale. And as much as I say you should never speak in absolutes, I'm pretty confident saying that I probably never will.

I don't like shopping anyway, but throw in the extra crowds of frantic shoppers, and it's pretty much the worst thing I can imagine taking part in. And that was even before the day became so dangerous. (I don't think I'm imagining it when I say that it has gotten so much worse over the years.) I saw some of the videos that were going around online, just like they do every year - people getting trampled, fistfights breaking out, etc. They made me incredibly sad, and a little sick to my stomach.

Want to know how I spent my Black Friday? The kids and I took some time going through their toy boxes and picking out toys that they were ready to donate. I know I'm not unique in this - lots of families do some weeding before Christmas and birthdays. (You kind of have to in order to make room for the new gifts that are about to happen.) But beyond that, it's also a really good lesson for kids to learn to evaluate what they have, and appreciate that they can give up something of theirs to help someone in need.

It actually wasn't an intentional "reaction" to Black Friday. That just happened to be when we had the time (and I honestly didn't even realize it until later.) But when I did make the connection, I approved. I liked that instead of going nuts with a need to buy, buy, buy... my kids were happy with the idea of letting go of their toys in hopes of making some other kids happy. It felt really good, for all of us. And I think it might just become our newest day-after-Thanksgiving tradition.

In fact, I think next year we'll try to do even more. Because, as I discovered this morning, I'm not the only one who is turning to this idea. (That was the "happy coincidence" that I mentioned.) It turns out that today is Giving Tuesday, which is a reaction to Black Friday/Cyber Monday, but one that I can completely get behind. As they put it, "We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. It's time to have a day for giving back."

Obviously this isn't meant to be a one-day thing. (Not an "I gave to charity today so now I'm done" deal.) But, like they say, it's meant to be "the giving season's opening day." I absolutely love the idea, and it makes me really happy to see so many people getting on board.