Negotiating Black Friday

November 26, 2008

For more than a decade, Adbusters magazine has been promoting Buy Nothing Day, an anti-consumerist alternative to hitting the malls on Black Friday.

The values behind Buy Nothing Day impressed Ecclesia Collective
co-founder Jason Evans and his wife, but the event itself clashed with
their belief that gift-giving has a proper place in Christian community.
So in 2003 they hosted their first Make Something Day gathering, at
which friends taught each other art, craft and cooking skills. The idea
has caught on a bit, and Evans continues to spread the word online. (Via Eliacín Rosario-Cruz.)

My
own family members know they can count on some homemade Christmas gifts
from me. (I spend a lot of my free time playing around with audio
recording and food preservation—separately, that is, though sauerkraut
does make a lovely gurgling sound as it ferments.) But I haven't been
able to bring myself to eschew store-bought gifts entirely: it seems
stingy to receive such gifts without reciprocating and rather bombastic
to insist that my family end a long tradition. I read
recently of a young Christian couple that avoids Christmas gifts
entirely by declining to spend the holiday with either family—a story
that impressed but failed to convert me.

Tomorrow I'm heading to
Pittsburgh to spend Thanksgiving with my girlfriend's family. While I'm
not going anywhere near the mall Friday, I also won't be making anything
or taking a hard line against spending a few dollars if it comes up.
Time with potential in-laws, even more than time with one's own family,
requires plenty of compromise and flexibility. But I'm thankful for it
just the same.