Until about five years ago, Black Friday wasn’t a thing. Happening on the Friday after Thanksgiving, you could ask why it’s really even relevant to the UK. But it’s now a regular on the calendar and already my inbox is full of deals, enticements and offers.
I always have a bit of a problem with this virtual monument to greed and consumerism. Scenes of people running into shops, barging each other out of the year so they can buy stuff they don’t need or buying online and receiving goods plus acres of packaging seems incredibly distasteful.
This year it’s hit home even harder to us. We’ve recently seen some pictures of some children in rural Cambodia who are looking ecstatic. The reason? They’ve just been donated some old clothes and books donated by small son and his cousins. The truth is that we could shed these items without really noticing. But to them, it’s absolutely made their day as they have almost nothing. We could learn a lot from them about appreciating what you have.
So instead of looking up Black Friday deals (which generally come back to haunt you on Blue Monday – about the 15th January when your credit card arrives) I’ll be observing “Buy Nothing Day” and BBC6Music’s T-shirt day. Want to join me? Here’s what you could be doing instead of the spend, spend, spend!
1. Walk, run, swim, anything! Get outside and enjoy the beautiful countryside! The weather’s not great but if you wrap up warm and put up wellies on, it’s so gorgeous out there at the moment. Coming back inside with rosy cheeks beats bringing home lots of carrier bags, in my opinion!
2. Contact someone – why not phone someone for a chat, or make conversation with an elderly person? I happened to get chatting to an elderly man in the post office queue a few years ago, and we still meet regularly for tea and lemon drizzle cake (always lemon drizzle). Hearing first-hand about life in wartime Liverpool is just a privilege that won’t be available to us in a few years’ time.
Not only is it Black Friday, but more excitingly, it’s BBC6Music’s “Wear an old band t-shirt to work” on Friday. If you don’t have a band t-shirt, you could (a) borrow one of mine or (b) have a trip down Memory Lane and listen to some of those old CDs, tapes, records. Just don’t travel so far down Memory Lane that you get stuck in Milli Vanilli Road.
Make something! I always hesitate to do any kind of craft with my small son as I’m so terrible at it. However, the hour we spent making a cake with my son last week was very precious. Admittedly, there was another hour involved cleaning up and another eating cake, but those people who say they don’t like homemade gifts are lying – seriously, am I the only person who can’t get enough homemade sloe gin?
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy things, but it’s the fact that buying things we don’t need is such a talked-about topic at this time of year. If you are doing Christmas shopping, why not head to an independent shop? They are disappearing at an alarming rate and most of the money they make tends to stay in the local community.
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy, and meanwhile, I’ll try to rein in my next rant!