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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

US Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Shopping...A Challenge

(image courtesy of the Buy Nothing Day 2010 Toolkit. Black Friday is also Buy Nothing Day.)

Gord shares on his blog a challenge issued to his local community. Even though he's in Canada, where they've already had Thanksgiving (in October), this is a great pre-US-Thanksgiving, pre-Black Friday, pre-Advent thought. Advent Conspiracy, anyone?

Fellow Residents of Grande Prairie:

In just over a month Christmas will be here. And so we are in the midst of the annual advertising blitz encouraging us to buy buy buy. On our TV screens, through our radio speakers, in pop-up windows on-line, and in the mountain of flyers within the folds of this paper each day we get told of the great deals just waiting for us to make our choice and put our money (or likely our plastic) down.

There is, of course, nothing really wrong with wanting to buy gifts for family and friends. But the Christmas commercialism blitz has gone over the edge. In the US the Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday. Originally this was in reference to the fact that the holiday season is what puts many retailers in the black for the year. But for some of us it has a darker meaning.

What does it mean to buy so much stuff that we really do not need? Is it good stewardship of the world's resources to amass more stuff when so many people both near and far struggle to have life's basic necessities? Is that really the best way to celebrate the season?

Several years ago we determined that it wasn't. And so I am sharing with you a challenge I made to myself. For the last 4 years I have committed to donating at least half as much (often closer to 100%) as we spend on Christmas gifts for our daughters to charity. I challenge all of you to make the same commitment. Imagine the benefit to our favourite charities
if every family in Grande Prairie gave a Christmas gift this way each year!
How are you preparing for the holidays and for Advent? I encourage you to plan to spend some time on Monday of next week at the RevGalBlogpals' Virtual Advent Retreat.
Share your thoughts in the comments. If you'd like to link to a blog post, you can use this formulation: <a href="the url of your blog post goes here">what you want the link to say goes here</a> For a complete how-to, click here.


  1. There is so much more to Christmas and Advent than commercialism and there is more to the season than complaining about the commercialism. I choose to ignore the American christmas and celebrate the coming of Christ and the realization of God with us.

    Read more of my post @

  2. My concern about Christmas commercialism is tempered somewhat by the very dire economic straits in my part of the country. Haranguing un- and underemployed people -- many of whom would love to have a job in retail just to help make ends meet -- about Americans' spending habits isn't really speaking to their and their families' situations. Do they sometimes make dumb spending choices that make their life situations worse than they have to be? Certainly. Do they buy into a vision of the good life that really isn't? Quite often, yes. But I suspect there are more subtle, less shaming ways to make those points.

  3. I didn't find it shaming, LC. It's just a suggestion, one voice speaking up among the many that assault us at this time of the year.

    Larry C, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

  4. Thanks, Mary Beth. I'd looked at the Advent Conspiracy and not shopping on Black Friday recently and then forgot. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. I'm moving on Monday so no way in you know where am I going out to buy MORE CRAP to pack :-)

  6. I think Lutheranchick makes a good point. You have to consider your audience.

    Also I have been known to rebel against the anti black Friday rhetoric. Kind of like how I like to tell my "I never watch TV" bragging friends how I love to watch TV. I've enjoyed going on on Good Friday not so much to buy stuff..but just to soak in the energy - kind of like going to the fair.

    Grace is always better than Law.

    But I'm still not buying any crap this Friday. I'll be packing the crap I already have.


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