Friday, November 12, 2010

(If You Can Afford To) Buy Nothing Day

Two weeks from tonight is Black Friday: the day that every big box retailer under the sun offers huge discounts; the day many folks haul their turkey-stuffed bellies out of bed at the crack of dawn or earlier for doorbuster sales; the day that-- inevitably-- some poor soul gets trampled underfoot of a $5-crockpot-crazed Walmart crowd.

As reliable as Black Friday is, so are the emails, blog posts, posters, and websites reminding us it is also Buy Nothing Day.

And the part of me that abhors abject consumerism, Walmart, and the idea that people actually get mauled-- sometimes to death-- on their way to grab an XBox for their kid really wants to throw my support behind Buy Nothing Day.  In fact, for years I did buy in.  Spent the day after Thanksgiving nursing an over-full tummy and just generally chilling out.

But then came the year that I decided to buy Big Mama Lou a dvd player for Christmas.  And Radio Shack had a sale... a really good sale... like 50% even its best sale prices.

See here's the thing-- and I know I'm hardly the first person to voice this opinion-- the idea of Buy Nothing Day is a good one, but it comes from a place of privilege.   I totally support you if you decide to abstain from Black Friday and subscribe to the Buy Nothing Day ideal, but I don't endorse it.  And I likely won't embrace it myself.

Most of you know that my Meatspace Workplace job is teaching.  And I'm sure ALL of you know that educators (noble profession, helping the chirren, paving the road to our collective futures... blah blah blah) get shit for pay.  (I won't even honor that statement by adding my usual asterisk-- "sh*t"doesn't do it justice.)  But many, many millions of folk out there make do with significantly less than my salary, and often have children, spouses, and extended families to support.

And the hard truth is: stuff is cheap on Black Friday.  Plain and simple.  And I know many people who do the bulk of their Christmas/Holiday shopping on Black Friday for that reason.  I'm related to many of those people.  And heck, some years I am those people.

If you want to buy your mama a dvd player for Christmas and can get one on Black Friday for $29, you shouldn't be made to feel morally and spiritually and culturally inferior for saving $20 the day after Thanksgiving.

Now, I'm not the least bit adverse to the idea that we've turned these winter holidays into crazy fraking STUFF-GIVING shells of the spiritual occasions that they are SUPPOSED to be.  Amen.  I hear ya.  And I'm with ya.  But I do know that if I am the lone relative to show up at the Lou Family Christmas sans gifts, I will not be thought of as the "Lou who gave the family the gift of her love and presence" but rather as the "Lou who was a stingy bitch this year."

Yes, it would be lovely if there were a culture shift.  But that hasn't happened.

Yes, I solemnly swear that if there ever is a Baby Lou, I will raise him or her differently.

But no, I'm not going to trumpet the Buy Nothing Day cause.  That being said, I will wholeheartedly encourage you to bring a winter coat to the Green Building at 9am on Buy Nothing Day.  From the press release:

The event will be hosted and coordinated by The Green Building and Ted Loebenberg, of Brokers Unlimited Inc Professional Auctioneers.  Ted coordinated several years of successful coat drives in his native Rhode Island, and is now excited to bring the initiative to Louisville.
Anyone wishing to donate a winter coat, or many winter coats, as often churches and community groups collect coats to bring to the event en masse, is encouraged to bring it to The Green Building, 732 East Market Street, on November 26th, 2010 at 9a.  
Anyone who needs a winter coat, or winter coats for their family, is most welcome to come to the event between 10 AM and 2 PM on the 26th and take what coats they need.  

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