Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday vs. The 3/50 Project -- holiday shopping reconsidered!

Yes, the day after Thanksgiving, I'm going to work for a while. The call for my services doesn't stop for holidays.

It's only 5:23 AM, though, and I'm already plotting a mental route to circumvent the cattle-herd already at the malls and on major streets. I go online and am assaulted with ads in bold colors, ALL CAPS TYPE FACES, and repetitive, urgent messages about Black Friday, and save, save, save... My email inbox doesn't look any better. Ugh...

And there's already news about a pepper-spraying melee at a Walmart in Porter Ranch? What's the matter with everyone?

I wonder if all this media/sensory overload might not generate a backlash, if it hasn't already. I'm surprised there hasn't been some kind of "Occupy Black Friday" arising. But our economy needs bolstering, and this is a short-term fix. The stores "need" our business RIGHT NOW, and we "need" those marked-down gifts RIGHT NOW. It's a symbiotic relationship of the most greedy, desperate kind.

Okay, a good deal on that TV or iPad2 aside, may I also offer an alternative? Check out this site: www.http://www.the350project.net. Go ahead...right now, BEFORE you gird on your armor and go forth into the consumerism warfare.

Me, I've been DONE with my shopping for months. As crazy as my schedule can get, I find that using some organization and mindfulness can result in more thoughtful gift-giving that's relaxed and truly from the heart. It's been my practice to be on the lookout for that special thing that I know a certain someone will truly appreciate; even if I see it in March or April, I'll get it and put it aside.

Here in Southern California, there's all kinds of charming little stores offering unique merchandise. For those who are near Montrose, there's a quiet little street of wonderful independent shops. Another area is Magnolia Park, more commonly known as West Magnolia Blvd., stretching down from Burbank into Sherman Oaks. Pomona has its antique and thrift store shopping district, which is where I spent a relaxing day this summer with an old friend...and got many of my Christmas gifts. I'm certain, all across the U.S.A., many of you can identify pockets of businesses that are slow, leisurely, and actually friendly...owned by families or older people who run their businesses with heart. Go, please, and explore them...for their businesses, and for yourself.

Every year, as a culture, we pay fleeting lip-service to the notion that "maybe we should not get so wrapped up in craziness." Maybe, right now, is the time to start...with patronizing the small businesses. We might just even enjoy the holidays.
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