Re-Think “Black Friday” to Tailor the Holiday to Your Values

Kids looking out a window

Here in the United States, “Black Friday” is the day after Thanksgiving Thursday, and it’s a traditional day to go shopping for holiday gifts. Many people enjoy this tradition, and the excitement and festive spirit of so many people hitting the stores, but some people don’t like the day’s association with spending and consumerism.

If you’re in the second group, you can re-think Black Friday to suit yourself. You can create your own individual activity or ritual to give the day a special meaning for you.

This day lends itself to reinvention, because it’s bit odd: it’s not an “official” holiday, and yet many people—unless they work in retail—get the day off from work, and children don’t go to school. It’s a kind of open day.

A friend decided that instead of going shopping for more possessions, her family would use the day to weed out possessions by donating, recycling, and tossing. For her, clearing things out sounded more appealing than bringing more things in; also, de-cluttering creates more space and order to showcase her holiday decorations.

Speaking of decorations, many people use that day to decorate their homes for the holidays.

I heard of someone who has a tradition of making a special casserole that incorporates all the Thanksgiving leftovers.

Many people volunteer on Black Friday, to use the day to help others and to put their values out into the world.

Many families have a particular movie they watch during the holidays—this day might be a fun time to do that. I know a family who watches the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy every January 1; maybe my family would do a Harry Potter extravaganza on Black Friday!

Maybe there’s something even more idiosyncratic that you could do.

In the TV show, This Is Us, in Season 1’s episode 8 of “Pilgrim Rick,” we see a flashback to the family’s past when the children were about eight years old. They were all dreading the visit to Kate’s mother’s house, and as they set out from home, everything went wrong. At one point, the car breaks down, they have to walk 3.4 miles to a gas station; Kate has a fight with her mother on the phone and declares they’re not going for dinner; the family gets stuck in a run-down motel, where there’s nothing to do except watch Police Academy 3 and eat the cheese dogs they manage to buy from the gas station. And they have the greatest time with this adventure.

Randall tells his mother, “I want every Thanksgiving to be like this for the rest of my life.” And from then on, each Thanksgiving, the family goes on a 3.4-mile hike, they watch Police Academy 3 together, and otherwise re-enact that day.

Have you found your own way to make a holiday of the day after Thanksgiving?

Another day that lends itself to personalization is Leap Day, which is coming up on February 29, 2020. I always think of Leap Day as a kind of topsy-turvy day—if you want to read about what I did with my daughters one Leap Day years ago, I wrote about it here.

Do you have plans for Leap Day? I don’t have a vision for 2020, I must admit.



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