As my extended family was gathered together to eat far too much food and watch far too much football, I noticed that several had huddled up far from the family festivities and were perusing newspaper circulars and scrolling down pages on their smart phones. The strategy had begun, not just for Black Friday, but for possible participation in the new shopping phenomena, Grey Thursday.
It is unfortunate to note that what was once a time of counting blessings, sharing memories of the year gone past, and consuming massive quantities of food, napping, then continuing to consume, our culture and communities have become so consumed with consumer goods that we assign roles to family members such as, “electronics buyer,” “sweater set procurer,” and “door buster deal maker”. It used to be that we were asked to bring side dishes, but now we are asked with who is bringing the blankets, tent, or chairs for the overnight wait outside the superstore for the breaking dawn super sale.
And while so many of my friends spent their month posting a status here or there about day number x of thanks, some also posted about the sweet deal they got on Thanksgiving evening. And I wondered, have we all become too caught up in the commercialization of the season to really connect with the reason for the season?
Despite what it all this may sound like, I don’t begrudge anyone the chance to make a deal. Especially if it is something they know will benefit their family and or make their lives better. In today’s economy I know that making ends meet might mean not being able to make a holiday wish come true for a child. So I understand wanting the best deal possible if you can possibly get it.
But I also know that in America there are currently 16.4 Million children living in poverty, and of those children, 7.4 Million live in extreme poverty. They might not have had a Thanksgiving meal, let alone have a holiday to look forward to in the month ahead. And that’s why #GivingTuesday is so important.
#GivingTuesday isn’t about not having shopped on Thursday, Friday, or even taking advantage of Cyber Monday deals. It is about finding a charity, either locally, nationally, or internationally, that supports a cause you believe in and supporting them with a small (or large) portion of the money you saved during all those deals. It’s about giving back into your community in other ways, either through that donation, or by volunteering your time. According to #GivingTuesday, 79% of Americans would rather have a charitable donation made in their honor than receive a gift they don’t need.
So instead of a sweater, buy a goat in your friend’s name that can help support and create a sustainable community in another country. Instead of a book, buy a desk for a child in honor of a loved one who supported education and learning. Instead of buying candy, help buy a family a meal for a year. #GivingTuesday has hundreds of options, or find one of your own. The point is, give back because that’s what giving is all about.
Remember what the real reason for the season is, and remember, as Anne Frank said, “no one ever became poor by giving.”
How will you give back this #Giving Tuesday?