November 29, 2009

Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping protesting at the NYC Disney Store in August of this year.

I spent my Thanksgiving holidays in New York City this year. Our Thanksgiving dinner was not our traditional turkey gluttony because we were visiting my cousin and her newborn baby and a huge feast was just not logistically possible in her tiny kitchen and with the demands of a baby. Still, we were together (MaxMarginal's mom recommended a great little bistro that even pleased my finicky aunt), we enjoyed ourselves immensely and that's what the holidays are about, right?

But it was another kind of the deadly sins that caught my family's attention after Thanksgiving: the avarice of Black Friday. Walking back to our hotel from the Upper West Side, my children noticed that there were far more people camping out at the Best Buy and Macy's than were there for the Thanksgiving Day parade. Walmart proudly announced in TV ads that they would open at 4 am (!!!) for shoppers. Ads for JCPenneys/Kohls/Kmart/Sears were similarly emblazoned with promises of great deals for those willing to forfeit sleep for shopping.

Now I know that we need to spend to stimulate the economy, but this adulation to conspicuous consumption even made my "gimme gimme" youngsters a little sick. I'm not as far over as to subscribe to the BuyNothingChristmas; my kids will have a few presents to open under the tree. But nothing that would require me to brave the malls in the wee hours of the morning, nor enable virtual slave labor in third world countries for the sake of our vanity. However, one of the things I insist my kids do every year is make gifts for family. One year we made hundreds of truffles and packaged them prettily. Another year, we made personalized ornaments. Another year were decorated coupons for chores and good deeds. The point is that they have to do something, not purchase something, which is the way I prefer to focus my attention on Black Friday.

What do you for the holidays to get yourselves in the spirit?

And on a semi-related note, Huffington Post has put together a list of 15 toys that you should never, and I do mean never, consider purchasing for your child. Like the Death Wish Elmo:

Yeah, that gets me in the holiday mood, how about you? For more, see Mike Mozart's FAILToys YouTube Channel.


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