I have a confession to make: I hated Black Friday even before I knew what it was.
As a kid, I dreaded the day after Thanksgiving. Usually, my mother, grandmother and I would drive to my aunt and uncle’s home in Baltimore and spend the entire day there. After spending so much time in the car and with members of my extended family that frankly, I had nothing in common with other than the fact we were related, I wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep in the next day. However, I never got that opportunity. Instead, that Friday was always spent in various mails and big box shops looking for bargains. For my grandmother in particular, who called herself the original bargain hunter, this was one of the happiest times of the years.
For me, it was hell. (I can still recall one year that we spent close to half an hour in the mall parking lot just looking for a parking space.)
Once I became an adult and lived on my own, I decided that I had better things to do than to spend the Friday after Thanksgiving shopping either at stores or online. Despite or perhaps because of my childhood, I actually prefer to make or select thoughtful, personal gifts from local stores whenever possible.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered quite a lot of people thought like I did. Some people do so to make a personal/political statement: they feel that the holidays have become too commercialized in general and the focus should be on gratitude rather than stuff. Others simply don’t like the idea of battling people over goods. (Lest anyone think I joke, go to YouTube and other sites and see footage of people battling each other over discounted TVs and other items.)
In any case, no matter which camp you fall into, if you happen to be one of those lucky souls who has black Friday off there are several things you can do that day.
Here’s a few I like to do or have done:
1. Have a massive cull.
Even those times when I decided not to decorate for the holidays, this time of year always feels like I have too much stuff lying around. Now is a great time to pack up those things you’ve been wanting to give to the Goodwill, Salvation Army or list on Freecycle.
Be ruthless in your cull. If you haven’t used an item for at least a year or more, give it away.
Even if you don’t end up giving away a lot of items, a cull is a good time to assess what you have and want you need or want. Many times friends and relatives tend ask what you want for the holidays and if you’re like me, you don’t always know immediately or cannot think of something. Now is the time to list those things you need just in case you are asked or even decide to treat yourself this year to some gifts.
You can also think of some charities you would like to be donated to in your name if you are choosing to do that in lieu of receiving any gifts.
2. Update your holiday card list.
Whether you send out actual holiday cards, electronic versions, or a combination of both, now is the time to update your list. Granted, this is something that most people don’t like to do, but the sooner you bite the bullet and do it, the sooner you can cross it off your to-do list and thus have one less thing to worry about.
If you decide not to send cards and don’t wish to receive one either for environmental reasons, then now’s the time to send out that mass email politely requesting that you be taken off the holiday card list.
3. Call, write, or email those people you’ve been meaning to for some time, but haven’t had time to do so.
Much like the card list, this is another thing that can easily fall by the wayside during the holiday time. Even if you chose not to celebrate, it is still a busy time of year for the majority of people. (For example, just going grocery shopping can take longer if your supermarket happens to be located in a shopping center with a lot of retail stores.)
Now is probably not the times to make plans to spontaneously get together, but just knowing that you are thinking of them or want to see them in the near future can mean a lot to someone.
One of the things I have noticed is that I tend to stay indoors a lot more during this time of year. It isn’t by choice either. Instead, it just seems like there is way too much to do and with shorter days to boot, I end up not getting around to taking that evening walk.
One plus about Black Friday is that parks and nature trails tend to be fairly vacant during the day. If possible, leave the watch and phone behind or at least try not to check the time as you go on your walk. This may be the only time of the holiday season to get outside. Enjoy it.
5. Do nothing.
The reason I include this one is that all too often, we seem to forget that we have the option to do nothing if we so desire. Give yourself permission to do nothing if that is what you want. If circumstances allow it, sleep in until the afternoon. Stay in your PJs all day watching your favorite movies-the choice is yours.
In closing, it is possible to have a Black Friday that does not revolve around shopping. Instead, it can be a time to engage in some useful personal pursuits or to simply do nothing before the big holiday rush.
In any case, make it your time and follow your own agenda rather than that of big name retailers. Both your wallet and your mind will thank you.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise