Thanksgiving, a day of celebration and gratitude for both harvest and family, is frequently overshadowed by its consumerist big brother, the notorious Black Friday. In 2013, consumers spent a whopping $57 billion on that day alone, with the average consumer spending over $400. 2014 is predicted to be just as spendy, with 67 million people expected to brave the long lines in search of deep discounts.
And for what? Stores offer deals on the usual: cheaply made clothing, resource-stripping electronics, trendy toys. For some, Black Friday heralds the beginning of the consumption-heavy holiday shopping season; for others, it heralds a headache.
If you're feeling a distaste in your mouth for this extravagant post-holiday spree, here are five sharing alternatives to the Black Friday madness.
1. Host a "FriendsGiving" Potluck
Sharing food is one of the oldest expressions of community and togetherness. What better way to carry forward the spirit of gratitude (and refuse the spirit of overwhelming consumerism) than to host a feast with friends? Chances are you'll have some combination of leftovers, friends you haven't seen for awhile, friends who 'had no place to go' on Thanksgiving, or you're many miles away from family yourself. If any of those prove to be true then participate in this growing tradition and invite your friends over (or suggest that somebody else does) for a FriendsGiving Potluck.
2. Plant Something
In a world overrun by planned obsolescence, cheap wares, and cradle-to-grave consumerism, it is an act of outright rebellion to plant seed, which can be harvested and shared again and again. Harvest your own seeds or go to your local seed library and find winter crops native to your region. Then plant—be it in your backyard, your neighbor's yard, a community garden, a local farm, or otherwise. And why do it alone? Invite friends along and make an event out of it, enjoying the ancient act of getting your hands in the earth.
3. Go on a Bike Ride with Friends and Family
The name Black Friday is attributed to Philadelphia policemen in the 1960s, who called it such because of the large amounts of traffic jams that occurred as shoppers went about their business. Going on a bike ride, be it down the road or down the coast, is a great way to see the landscape, get away from the crowds, and turn the name's origins on its head. If you're feeling ambitious, you can plan an outing to a local U-pick farm and grab some produce while you're at it. Either way, resources such as Bikely will help you create and plan routes, and hit the road.
With all the focus on external appearance and objects that Black Friday promotes, there's no space left for quietude, meditation, or self-reflection. Take the day to yourself (or with a group) and practice whatever form of meditation works for you: sitting quietly, yoga, journaling, walking in nature, even dancing. Sit under the eaves of a tree, in your living room, or on your porch, and tune in. Use this time to imagine the world you want to live in and to grant yourself some respite in this frequently loud and busy time of year.
5. Repair Cafe
Flout the notion that objects are trash as soon as they have any minor flaw by having a repair cafe. Invite people over to mend clothes, fix appliances, redo a kitchen, backyard, or garden, get crafty, add personal touches to their wardrobe, build bikes, or teach cooking. By sharing personal skillsets, you'll empower your entire community to learn to rely on themselves and their neighbors and by emphasizing fixing and upcycling, you'll help break the chain of cradle-to-grave objects. For tips, check out Shareable's guide How to Start a Repair Cafe.
Whatever you choose to do, be it any of the above, or anything else, may your day-after-Thanksgiving be just as rich with friends, family, and true connection as the day before it.
Have any more ideas or pointers? Share them in the comments below.
Top photo: Caleb Roenigk (CC)