My children asked me to write their Christmas lists to Santa the first week in October this year, so I rightfully lost my ever-loving mind. I gently informed them we still hadn’t bought our Halloween costumes. Maybe we should focus on that.
The first week in November rolled around, and my kids had a new question: “Can Flower Rose (they picked the name, not me), our Elf on the Shelf, come soon?”
They did not just ask me about the dang elf. I snapped. Can we just put the brakes on Hallo-Thanks-Mas a little bit here?
I’m still stealing away bite-size Snickers bars from the kids’ Halloween stashes and burying the wrappers in the bottom of the trash so they won’t find out. My red Starbucks cup is still holding my precious pumpkin spice latte. Black Friday and all of its buildup is being shoved down my throat before I’ve had a chance to wash down my turkey with homemade gravy and a glass of red wine.
So, I’m taking Thanksgiving back. I’m not even batting an eyelash at Black Friday. In fact, I’m giving Black Friday the side-eye this year.
Before you dub me a Scrooge, listen here. I love me some Christmas. I love the lights, the smell of pine and sipping eggnog by the fire. I even enjoy my family on this day! Crazy, right? I love Christmas carols and pictures with Santa.
But, I’m going to draw the line at snagging doorbusters before I’ve had a chance to snag my Thanksgiving seconds. Seriously, if you don’t grab Thanksgiving seconds, what kind of sacrilegious eater are you?
Here are my seven reasons why I won’t go shopping on Black Friday for, or with, my family — ever.
1. Black Friday mayhem
You’ve seen it on the news before: Stampedes of customers funneling through store doors at the exact second the doors open. They look like the running of the bulls in Spain. C’mon people, your kids don’t need to see you stampede like an animal all because so-and-so wants an Xbox. Which brings me to…
2. Our children learn from us
They model our behaviors. We can complain about Christmas coming earlier and earlier every year, and about our kids — especially teenagers — being too materialistic. It’s our own dang faults. We tell the retail companies to bring Black Friday earlier and earlier with our purchases. We teach our kids that a happy identity is tied to the latest iPhone and hottest pair of sneakers when we indulge them.
3. Never-ending lines
Oh, the lines! This goes without saying, but I’d like to point out the absurdity of the lines. I don’t know about you, but long lines make me stubby — whether it’s at Disney World, the women’s restroom, the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Target checkout line behind the coupon lady. I hate all lines. I don’t know anyone that enjoys waiting in lines. Subjecting yourself to Black Friday lines is a form of masochism, I swear. I’d rather stub my pinkie toe a thousand times than wait in line with my kids, freezing off my can.
4. The supposed “sales”
Again, Christmas gets earlier and earlier every year. That means those sales you think you’re supposedly snagging on Black Friday (and Black Friday only) are actually available mid-November. Those Black Friday sales aren’t anything special.
I have to make a concession here. Holiday doorbusters are only available on Black Friday. Can I point out an obvious and well-known fact here? There is limited (low) stock of doorbuster items. The chance of you actually grabbing the doorbuster is slim to none. If you do snag a doorbuster, be prepared to throw elbows and judo chop potential doorbuster snatchers.
There’s always Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is shopping done from the comfort of your warm, cozy home or office desk.
5. It’s not green
I’m no green, clean, mean mama machine by any stretch of the imagination. I do the typical stuff: recycle, reuse pajama pants for nights on end and I don’t throw chemicals into our sewage system. I have to point out how horrible buying everything new is for our environment. My kids beg for a toy. I get them the toy, and not even two hours later, they’re over it. If I’m lucky, I get a whole day’s worth of joy out of the toy. Do I keep buying more new stuff that they ask for — and throw away — or do I tell them to ask their friends and cousins to swap toys? The annoying mantra, sharing is caring, is fitting here.
6. Things don’t make us happy
We’re not some super self-righteous family that claims all we need is love to be happy. Please. My kids’ tablets make them happy, and that makes me happy. I get to enjoy a nice glass of wine and an hour of peace while my kids play on their tablets. It’s quite magical actually.
Without sounding all sappy and cliché, the times we are truly most happy as a family are when we’re spending quality time together. When we’re having a family soccer game in the backyard. When we’re baking cookies together. When we’re having an impromptu dance party in the living room. When we’re experiencing nature.
Overall, “things” depress me. Being stuck inside on a Saturday to sort, organize and clean all of my new stuff sucks. I’d rather be doing something more enjoyable.
7. The dreaded returns
If I wanted a certain shirt or necklace, I would’ve gone out and bought it myself.
I’ve returned countless duplicate toys for my kids, a bunch of blouses, scarves and jewelry. I’m over it. I always felt as though I had to return the gifts, so as not to waste them. However, this year, I’m not partaking in returns. It’s a waste of my time. I’ll be donating any and all unwanted gifts.
There are gifts I don’t return, I swear. I’ve never wanted to return a gift certificate to a restaurant, theater show or yoga class. I imagine there are no doorbusters for those types of gifts.
I can’t partake in a culture that values constant, trumping consumerism. I can’t support a culture that values stuff. I won’t give up gobble-gobble, second-helpings and pumpkin pie — and endless turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving — for shopping, sales and stuff. I won’t raise kids that tie their material wants to their worth. Let’s do better than Black Friday. Let’s teach the next generation about Thanksgiving.