I'm not a Grinch, I promise. I love the holidays as much as the next person, but here's the thing -- I like all the holidays, not just Christmas. I love Halloween and Thanksgiving almost as much as Christmas and I like to enjoy each and every one of them -- we only get them once a year, after all! I like to do holidays one at a time, but if you're the kind of person who likes to get into the Christmas spirit early, be my guest. Honestly, it's totally OK. What I don't think is OK is for the retail universe to smother people with advertisements and brainwash people to buy more, more, more! You see, I don't think the holidays are about buying a bunch of sh** we don't need. Did I like opening presents as a kid? Of course I did! I'm OK with kids getting excited for Santa and presents under the tree (within reason!), but I'm not a kid anymore. And even when I was a kid, I was also excited to visit Grandma's house, see my cousins, bake cookies with my mom, and watch Christmas movies. Christmas isn't just about stuff. Even as a kid I knew that. Trust me, I wasn't a perfectly selfless angel as a kid, but I still knew, I was taught, that Christmas is about much more than just stuff.
For me, the holidays are about family and friends. They're about tradition and appreciating and celebrating. And food. (What's a holiday without great food?) What the holidays are not about is stupid Black Friday. Black Friday which has turned into Black Thanksgiving. The idea of shopping on Thanksgiving kind of makes me sick. Why do I want to be in a store or a mall when I could be enjoying a second slice of pie and catching up with family I only see a few times a year? Why would I want to scramble for a place in line, out in the cold, when I could be warm and inside, laughing at my Dad's stories? (They're still funny even though I've heard them a million times, I swear.)
A few years ago, I decided I was not going to buy Christmas presents anymore. I was really into cooking and baking and had started getting more adventurous with trying new recipes. I decided I was going to learn how to make homemade chocolates and that was going to be my gift to everyone I care about. Honestly, it's one of the best decisions I ever made. I enjoy creating delicious treats in my kitchen and as I make the different varieties, I'm thinking about those people I care about. Aunt Barbara's favorite are the dark chocolate-covered pretzels. Aunt Susie likes the fruit & nut clusters. Grandma does not like the chocolate fudge. My brother loves the truffles. Unless they are all lying to me, this is a gift people seem to really appreciate. I do still buy a small gift for my cousin's daughter because she's still a little kid. But guess what I usually get her? A book! (Who's surprised, honestly?)
So if I'm not buying much in the way of presents, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I don't partake in the Black Friday madness. There is only one store I ever visit on Black Friday -- The Bookworm, my favorite little used bookstore ever. It's near my Grandma's house, so I only visit a few times a year. Instead of scrambling for discounted electronics, I choose to support a small, local business. A business that in turn supports literacy and love of the written word. Stepping into The Bookworm is such a different "retail" experience. Yes, they are selling stuff, but it couldn't be more different from any of the big box stores running ridiculous sales. I don't feel like I've sold my soul just by walking through the door. It's a little haven for book-lovers. It's a place where I can trade-in books I'm finished with and discover new ones, already gently used by another fellow book-lover -- recycling at its best!
Of all the material possessions a person could own, books are the only ones that hold any real appeal for me and when I do buy gifts, they are my very favorite thing to give. When you buy a book, you are getting more than just an object. You're are getting a journey, an adventure, maybe even a lesson -- a whole world tucked into those pages. A book is so much more than just another thing.
However you choose to spend Thanksgiving and Black Friday is up to you, but you know where I'll be.