Christmas has morphed into a secular holiday in the United States with consumerism as its focal point. Thanksgiving is becoming a shopping day.
In 2012, according to the National Retail Federation, U.S. shoppers broke new ground when 35 million people showed up at retail stores and shopped online on Thanksgiving. A record breaking 247 million shoppers spent $59.1 billion on gifts and stuff for themselves over Black Friday weekend.
Author’s Soap Box (Opinion) – Christmas Consumerism is Out of Control
Like most people, including me, you probably enjoy giving and receiving gifts. But Christmas season consumerism has gotten way out of hand. Christmas shopping isn’t fun anymore. Our manic over consumption is using up huge amounts of resources, energy, and water, polluting our environment, and creating mountains of waste.
Come on, admit it, unless you are one of those people who starts next year’s Christmas shopping during this year’s after-Christmas sales or an adrenaline junky who enjoys the challenge of shopping on Christmas Eve, you’re probably stressed out about Christmas shopping and worried you’ll overspend your gift budget again. You may find yourself resenting the sense of obligation and quid pro quo that surrounds Christmas gift giving and then feeling guilty or miserly.
Advertising bombards us everywhere and advises us what to buy to be the coolest aunt, perfect husband, ideal parent, best friend, or smartest shopper. We are losers unless we buy our kids, nieces and nephews, or grandkids the hottest toy. Only slackers sit around enjoying turkey, watching football, or playing board games on Thanksgiving. Standing in line at 2:00 a.m. to be the first person in the door on Black Friday or to snag the latest gadget is a badge of honor (extra credit if it’s snowing).
So what is a good American who loves their family and friends to do?
Christmas Shopping Button Malfunction
I used to enjoy giving and receiving Christmas gifts. But this year my internal Christmas shopping button has malfunctioned—somehow it’s been switched off, broken, or repurposed. What caused this to happen?
Perhaps it was spotting Christmas stuff in stores before Halloween. A contributing factor was probably the early and constant bombardment of Christmas advertising. Maybe seeing TV ads for Pre-Black Friday sales sent me over the edge. Regardless, the fun and pleasure of Christmas shopping and gift giving is gone.
My spouse and I talked it over and decided to opt out of giving and receiving Christmas gifts this year. We’d make an exception if we had small children in the family, but we don’t. We’ll continue donating toys and books to Toys for Tots.
We announced our intentions to our family and a few friends via email. No reaction from them yet, but it’s only been a couple of days. Perhaps the message was met with a shrug and a sigh of relief.
Let’s Take Back Thanksgiving
When President George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Presidential Proclamation in 1789, it was intended as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. At that time, the Revolutionary War was still fresh in people’s minds, the U.S. Constitution had just been instituted, and George Washington was 6 months into his term as the first President of the United States.
Let’s take back Thanksgiving. Let’s reflect on what we are thankful for and what is important to us. Let’s relax, slow down, and enjoy the day and the weekend. I propose we give ourselves permission to:
- Just say no to Pre-Black Friday sales.
- Enjoy Thanksgiving and give Gray Thursday a miss.
- Sleep in on Black Friday.
- Skip Small Business Saturday.
- Surf past ads and shopping sites on Cyber Monday.
- Go green on Green Monday by not shopping.
- 4th of July – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
- Black Friday Shopping – Just Say No
- GDP is So 20th Century – Gross National Happiness is In
- Green Gift Giving
- Green Gift Wrapping
- I am an American Citizen not just an American Consumer
- Keeping up with the Joneses – Let’s Not
- Stuff – Less is More
- The First Thanksgiving was a Green Event