By Dave Palmer
Every Thanksgiving, Americans celebrate the things they already have for which they are thankful. The next day, and sometimes later the same day, they go out and trample each other to buy things for others so they can have something more to be thankful for next year.
It’s time to bring this madness to an end.
According to Wikipedia, National Buy Nothing Day started in September of 1992 in Mexico “as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.” In 1997, it gained traction in America among people who wish to reject the mass consumerism that has unfortunately become inextricably linked to the Christmas season and especially the day after Thanksgiving. In 2000, Adbusters began expanding the campaign deeper into the world market, reaching as far as 65 different countries today.
Black Friday has historically been a boom day for businesses, so much so that some American retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target open their doors on Thanksgiving to get a jump on the profits. If Americans don’t stand up and do something, or perhaps sit down and buy nothing, it will not be very long until every major retailer is open all day on Thanksgiving.
We as consumers give these stores the profit motive to open their doors at the crack of dawn on Black Friday. Thanks to the propensity of bored consumers to get a jump on Christmas shopping online before stores open Black Friday, Wal-Mart and Target now have a profit motive to open their doors on Thanksgiving.
If we as consumers resist the temptation to alleviate our Thanksgiving boredom by going out to shop, stores like Wal-Mart and Target will no longer find it profitable to open on Thanksgiving.
If we resist the temptation as consumers to rush out to stores the day after Thanksgiving and instead use that time to reflect on what we are already thankful for, stores will no longer have a profit motive to open early on Black Friday. They will no longer have a reason to offer door-buster deals over which people have been, and will continue to be trampled, unless we refuse to line up at the door.
Instead of trampling each other, perhaps people could trample some fallen leaves on a hike through the woods. They could also participate in zombie walks around malls, stage credit card cutting ceremonies, or walk around stores with an empty cart and buy nothing.
And buying nothing for 24 hours is exactly the point. It gives us a chance to rest, relax, and reflect on the things we already have for which we should be grateful. It gives us time to make deeper ties with relatives and friends. Most of all, it gives us an opportunity to think about what it might be like to not have enough money to have a Christmas at all.
There will be plenty of time to shop before Christmas. Most of the sales will remain in place long enough to take advantage of them, and in some cases, the deals will get better as stores become desperate to move products from the shelves to make room for new ones. In reality, the less we buy, the better the sales will get.
This year, make a commitment to buy nothing for 24 hours and celebrate what millions of others will be celebrating: a break from buying and mass consumerism.
Because the holiday season isn’t about who can give the greatest quality or the most expensive toys. It’s about celebrating family, friends, and the fact that we have so much to be grateful for in our lives. Let’s all take time to reflect those facts on National Buy Nothing Day.