The holiday season has begun and yet again this year I find myself struggling to find where I fit in. My mom got sick when I was 12 and I have such a short window of ever remembering a good Christmas. I remember the ones that were sad, lonely, and devoid of much joy. My mom was sick or we did not have money for food and bills so gifts, Christmas, and Santa were not top on the list.
Somehow my dad loved Christmas and yet what I saw of that was the love of decorating, the ambience that made it seem that all was well when really it was not. I am torn by my ghost of Christmas past, and how I really have never gotten into the Christmas spirit since I was 12. It has always felt forced and fake to me. I have been at other Christmas’ as an adult where the kids involved ripped their gifts open and only asked for more. It rubbed me the wrong way and I vowed to never breed that in my family. I either do not want to celebrate it the way the rest of the world does, or I want to create a different story. Chris agrees.
Added to my ghost of Christmas past — is that Nico’s birthday is on Christmas. Due to my past I would rather spend the day celebrating him and his birthday than Christmas. Yet, how do we do that when others in our life might not understand where we are coming from? I have long had the opinion (and have shared in other blogs) that I do not want to lie to Nico about Santa. I think there is a way to keep the world magical and real and not lie to our children. How do we ever expect them to trust us if we lie to them? Magic can happen with honesty. Did we all just get sucked into the story of Christmas? The one that circles back to Black Friday, retail, and consumerism? Or is it about spending time together, shared experiences, and giving to others? How many of us actually do that during the holiday season?
Gratefully, Nico will not know the difference this year, but next year will be different. This year (whether his birthday, or if we decide to do an actual Christmas) he is delighted to just have us open a box from Amazon Prime — even if the box contains batteries. Even better when it has a toy truck or school bus.
Call me extreme, but this momma is torn on what to do and how to bring the true spirit of Christmas into Nico’s life.
Someone on my team told me yesterday about how “Cards Against Humanity (CAH),” the brilliant card game gone wild, released a Black Friday stunt of sorts to “experience nothing for $5.” The company made $71,145 in sales on Black Friday. That is an average of 14,229 people who decided to give up $5 for nothing — if all donations were at $5. Their site indicates that some individuals gave more. This link shares a list of what CAH did with the cash. My favorites:
Alex: 760 pounds of cat litter: $500 — how many years will it take to use that?
Amy: 1.5% of my student loan debt: $2381 — the comment to that list item says “$100,000 for a BA, $60,000 for a MFA and now I design dick jokes for a living.”
Jon: Dinner for 2 at Alinea in Chicago: $840 — Jon I am with you. I know all about the talents of chef Grant Achatz and that is definitely an experience I would have on my list.
Kevin: Not sure what you need 11 boxes of Tylenol PM for, can we talk? ($60)
Nick: Taking CAH team to mini golf, batting cages, and ice cream ($500) — I am a kid at heart and I love that you are thinking about your team.
I loved seeing (whether by request or design) that most of the lists had one or more listings for charities of their choice, and most lists were balanced. My curiosity is, for those that donated was their $5+ tax-deductible? Was it worth it? What was the reasoning for giving $5 for absolutely nothing? Would you do it?
Whether or not the $71,145 should have gone entirely to charity, it was great marketing. If you had not heard of Cards Against Humanity before their stunt you may know about them now. Whether you can appreciate the game for its crassness or vulgarity, everyone has to play at least once in life. I mean we have to make sure Amy truly uses her education to its fullest.
Yesterday I received an email from REI, with the subject line: “REI is Closing Black Friday.” Of course like so many people who received the email, my response was: “What, what, what?” It is a great marketing ploy and strategy. I immediately was curious and opened the email and read it out loud to Chris. My next thought was: “Did someone hack into their email server or is this legit?” Here is an excerpt of the email I received from REI:
“This Black Friday the co-op is doing something different. We’re closing all 143 of our stores. Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most—be outside.
We want you, our members, to be the first to hear—not just what we’re doing, but why.
We’re passionate about bringing you great gear, but we’re even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks for all of us. Perhaps John Muir said it best back in 1901: “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.”
We think Black Friday is the perfect day to remind people of this essential truth.
And don’t worry, as a member you’ll still enjoy great deals on great gear all holiday season long. But on this one day, we’re going to #OptOutside and we want you to join us.”
From what I can tell, it is legitimate and I applaud REI for driving the point home so clearly – potentially at a loss of revenue. Maybe though — just maybe their members and frequent shoppers will find this admirable and not worry a bit that they will not be open. Of course their website will still transact orders. Why not have the deals happen the day after Black Friday? Why does it have to follow consumerism tradition and happen on Black Friday?
In any case, I hope it starts a new trend. I for one do whatever I can possible to stay away from ANY shopping on Black Friday. The only thing I would do is venture out to what Portland calls “Little Boxes” which supports small businesses. That is something I can support. It makes it even better that they want folks to be outside. Maybe other companies will join #OptOutside.
Other improvements to this year are companies that previously were open on Thanksgiving day are choosing to stay closed. Staples and GameStop will be closed this year as the companies want customers and employees to enjoy the holiday they way they want to celebrate it. There is even a group of individuals trying to get a local mall closed for Thanksgiving Day by way of a Change.org campaign.
I am not a big holiday person. If I were to pick one that is higher on the list, it would be Thanksgiving. Gratitude, family and friends, and good food. What is not to like? What I am not a fan of is the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday. You can tell from this past Black Friday blog post. I would rather do almost anything than go shopping on Black Friday. There is not a deal that is that amazing to make it worth it to me.
So when I heard that Amazon is creating their own version of Black Friday on July 15, called: Prime Day. I thought, hmm. Part of me thinks the idea is brilliant, the other part hates the idea. Why not create a shopping day that is catered to the customers that shop the most with you? Almost like a customer appreciation day for those that are the most loyal — Prime members. Amazon states that there will be more sales than they have on Black Friday. Since Prime Day is meant to be a celebration of their 20th anniversary, I wonder if it is successful if they will bring it back in future years. If it becomes bigger than Black Friday, what will other retailers do to outrun Amazon?
It is definitely what we need — Black Wednesday in July. 😉
They are also offering a free 30-day membership to Amazon Prime for those that want to take part in the day. How many will keep their membership after the 30 days, and how many will drop their membership? It starts right at midnight, so be sure to take a nap, so you can be wide-eyed and ready for a day of deals.
Not sure if I will partake, but Happy Early Birthday, Amazon.
One of my least favorite days of the year is Black Friday. I abhor shopping on that day. This year there is an art bazaar that I would like to go to in order to support local artists. If I happen to be in downtown Portland, our local boutiques and small businesses participate in Little Boxes, a way for the community to support local businesses. That would be the only adventure I would have with shopping. Even having said that, I still do not have any interest.
I do not understand the desire for stores to be open (and for folks to be out shopping) on Thanksgiving Day. Why oh why? Our nearby outlet mall will be open from 6 pm to midnight on Thursday, November 27, and then is open from midnight to 10 pm on Friday, November 28. Which basically means they will be open from 6 pm on Thursday to 10 pm on Friday. WHY?
This is why I loved hearing about “RAK Friday” (Random Act of Kindness Friday) intended for Black Friday. Friends started a Facebook page and also has their three kids in on the action. What a wonderful idea to think about celebrating Thanksgiving as a day of gratitude and rolling into Black Friday doing things for others, instead of buying “things.” What if we were able to change Black Friday into RAK Friday? What a difference it would make in this world of consumerism and commercial spending.
So here is my question for you, what should I do on RAK Friday here in Portland? And, for those of you that might be reading this while waiting in line at the mall, what RAK are you going to do for someone today?