Don’t go shopping on Thanksgiving. Do this instead.

Don't Go Shopping on Thanksgiving. Do this instead.I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday.  I’m naturally quite introverted and just the idea of that kind of shopping gives me that anxiety buzz in my core.  The crowds.  The ugliness.  I don’t know from experience, obviously, but I’ve heard and read some crazy horror stories.  Not only is that not what Christmas is about – that’s not even what shopping is about!

I just can’t believe how overboard the whole Black Friday craze has gone.  I was appalled last year when I saw that stores would be opening on Thanksgiving Day.  This year, the same again.

I blame it on the economic downturn that came after the housing bubble burst.  I don’t remember this shopping tradition being so extreme before then.  Maybe it is because I’ve never participated and I am older now and pay closer attention to those sorts of things.  Or maybe it is because when large corporations began feeling the pain of the middle class’s financial struggles in the form of decreased sales, and thus decreased profits, they got desperate and began making unheard of Black Friday deals in hopes of enticing those folks to come out and spend-spend-spend, taking Black Friday shopping to a whole new level.

I don’t even remember there being a Black Friday when I was a kid, but apparently the day after Thanksgiving has been called by this name since the 1960s (but not for the reasons you probably think).  The shopping tradition began much earlier, but the air around it seems to have been much different.  In the first half of the 1900s, it was an unwritten rule that retailers held off on Christmas advertising until the day after Thanksgiving, which marked the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season (not a day to push, kick, swear at, and trample each other in order to get our hands on the latest whats-it).

I’m so pleased to see that, according to my Facebook feed and recent articles, there seems to be an outcry against this new heightened sense of urgency and importance surrounding Black Friday and all of the aggression that seems to come with it.  Yet, the tradition continues.

I would love to see us all just take a step back and utilize the day after Thanksgiving as an added bonus day to the holiday weekend, taking time to relax and just be around loved ones.

At the very least, let’s leave Thanksgiving alone.  Let’s keep the theme of Thanksgiving as one of togetherness and 8 ways to enjoy time with family at your holiday get-togethersgratitude.

Here are some ideas for things to do Thanksgiving evening, when you are all done eating.  Leave the dishes.  Leave the mess.  Just spend some time together and enjoy the company of the people you love.  Do this until late into the night so that you are so full of gratitude for the good things in your life that you have no desire (or energy) to subject yourself to the Black Friday insanity.  And if you still decide to venture out on Friday, maybe these activities will give your soul enough of a boost to keep your spirits high and kindness at the top of your heart while you brave the crowds.

Play games.

Like, with each other (not on your phones or with people on the internet).  There are plenty of multiplayer video games that lend themselves well to family get-togethers, but I encourage you to take it a step further and break out the board games or a deck of cards.  No games on hand?  There are plenty of games you can play with zero equipment.  Remember telephone?  Or how about the Name Game?  Or Never Have I Ever, or Charades, or Two Truths and a Lie… I could go on and on.

Tell stories.

Like, with each other (not on Facebook ).  Tell fun stories about each other, share fun memories, take turns telling your most embarrassing moments.  Keep it light – don’t tell embarrassing stories about others.  That sort of defeats the whole purpose.

Look at old photos.

Break out the photo albums!  Remember those??  There is something about flipping through the pages of a photo album.  Ask your friends and family members to bring their old photo albums too.  You will probably lose track of time doing this.

I keep meaning to create annual photo albums from the digital photos I accumulate over each year.  I don’t want the tradition of sitting down on the couch looking through those big books to die with my generation.

Make up a Pass It On story.

These are even more fun with multi-generation groups.  One person begins the story with a phrase.  The next person adds to the story with a single phrase and it just continues around, the story building and the participants inevitably rolling on the floor laughing.

Feeling the spirit of gratitude?  Try one of these:

Put every person’s name in a jar.  Have each person draw one name and say one thing they are grateful for about that person.

Have each person write down a couple of things that happened during that year that they are grateful for and put it in a jar.  Have each person draw one out and read it aloud to the group.

Get a large sheet of paper or poster board and have everyone write down things they are grateful for.  Bring it out the next year to look back on.

Feeling particularly giving?  Volunteer as a family!  Just because it is Thanksgiving doesn’t mean the soup kitchens are closed.  Nothing inspires gratitude like giving to those less fortunate.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?  How do you spend time as a family?  Do you partake in a little shopping or do you avoid the crowds like the plague?

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