Some Thoughts on Holiday Shopping

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Today, in the United States, it is the holiday of Thanksgiving.

It’s a day usually filled with lots food that we don’t normally eat, watching parades on TV, and spending time with family. After the relative peacefulness of Thanksgiving comes the crazy frenzy of shopping known as Black Friday.

Black Friday gets the name from reversal of the retailer’s fortunes, escaping the “red” of the accounting books to the “black” of profitability. And I believe that some businesses actually make a significant portion of their profits from now until Christmas.

But now it seems that major retailers are not happy with sales on Friday, they are opening their doors and pushing their sales on Thanksgiving. For the second year in a row major stores are opening as early as 6PM on Thursday, instead of super early on Friday.

On the surface, it seems pretty harmless. If you want to get good deals on stuff (yes, it’s stuff) then now the deals are on Thursday and you don’t have to get up early on Friday anymore. But what are the consequences?

We lose a day of peace and quiet

If you’re inclined to go shopping in the Black Friday frenzy, now you can do it even earlier. So instead of spending the day with your family and thinking about shopping the next day, you’re getting yourself ready to go shopping at 6 or 7, or whatever time stores open on Thanksgiving.

Our friends and family lose a day off

Some people may not care to have Thanksgiving off. Everyone who doesn’t like a day off, please raise your hand….. no one? OK, then I’ve made my point.

When you go shopping on Thursday, you are encouraging retailer’s bad behavior of making their employees work on a day that should be spent with family. And let me also be clear that by shopping, I mean shopping for crap you don’t need, not picking up a can of cranberry sauce early Thanksgiving morning.

There are much better things you could be doing

Shopping for stuff can be fun… sometimes. But maybe it’s time to step back and wonder just what the costs are. If you plan to go out shopping on Thanksgiving day, it’s costing you family time.

“My family goes shopping together!” you say.

Well, that’s fine. But on a rare day that the whole family has off, is that really how you want to end the day? Is there nothing else you could do together than go to Wal-Mart?

I’m merely asking the questions that need to be asked. I like good deals as much as anyone; I think it’s hardwired in our nature. But if you take a second and consider your options, it’s really not that difficult to say no.

…. And holiday shopping in general

A lot of people go into serious debt this time of year, and for what? Toys that break within months? Sweaters that are forgotten or disliked? The little purchases add up.

Gifts do not improve your status in life. Stuff merely accumulates until you have nowhere else to put it and then you have to rent a storage unit to put your excess junk into. The joy of receiving a massive amount of gifts is fleeting, and only a temporary high that will soon fade away (my guess would be the next time you look at your credit card statement).

Consider giving gifts that aren’t made in a factory somewhere far away. Give your time to someone, or someplace, that could use your help. Give something consumable, like a bottle of wine, or maybe some homemade cookies. These are things that will definitely be used and not linger around their house for years until it’s thrown away, like a chia pet or a Snuggie.

So when you’re out shopping this year (and hopefully NOT on Thanksgiving), stop and think for a moment. Think about what you’re buying, and why.

Say to yourself “Is is worth it? Is this worth my time and money?”

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