Rethinking Black Friday

As you can see, the Mall of America is already gearing up for the holiday season.

As you can see, the Mall of America is already gearing up for the holiday season.

The holiday season is officially upon us. It’s a time to spend with loved ones and a time to reflect on how much we’ve been given. Unfortunately, these aspects of the holidays often get lost within the hectic consumerism that begins with Black Friday and continues well through Christmas Day.

Stores are pushing the boundaries of Black Friday by opening earlier and earlier each year, running well into the family time of both shoppers and employees. On a day meant to conjure up thankfulness, many Americans instead plan their conquest of store after store to obtain the newer versions of things they already have, clothes and movies they don’t need, and compete with others to get them.

With many stores opening Thanksgiving night or even, in the case of Kmart this year, 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, people are choosing good prices over family time and rest. Even worse, the ones who don’t get a choice are the ones impacted most as shoppers’ incessant needs for a good deal also keep many employees from their loved ones on Thanksgiving.

“I struggle with friends and family who love the Black Friday extravaganzas because who doesn’t like a good deal? However, I’m worried that my friends and family are not thinking about the systemic effect of our buying practices. Maybe instead of saving more we should just give less to each other in order to help the greater good. I’m proud of companies like REI who value the importance of quality time as a greater gift than a material object,” said Betsy Schmitz, a student in the Master of Arts in Theology program.

It should be acknowledged that, for families living in poverty, Black Friday is the time of year where goods are most affordable so it is necessary for some to participate. However, this article is speaking to the majority of us that can’t seem to figure out what “enough” really is.

We are conditioned by the advertisements that surround us. We are convinced that we need the newest and best of all technology while families in our city starve to death. This holiday season I want to encourage students of St. Kate’s to recognize that many of us have much more than enough. Instead of spending excess amounts on each other, let’s keep in mind those who are far, far less fortunate than us.

One way to keep things in perspective this holiday season is to give to those less fortunate than many of us. St. Kate’s offers an adopt-a-family program where options for sponsoring a family range from shopping for them, donating cash to sponsor the entire family, or a financial donation of the donator’s choice. Sponsors are being accepted through Nov. 30. You can find more information here:

“Because sponsoring is a significant commitment, we encourage folks to form a group to adopt. In the past, departments, clubs, organizations and whole families have adopted families of various sizes. We can also use gift cards for groceries or to stores (Best Buy, Movies, Target, Barnes and Noble.) for our families. Families served by Adopt a Family are low income and this assistance helps them to have a nice holiday with their family. Over the years, we have heard from families how much the program has meant to them,” said Joan Demeules, the Director of Access and Success Program.

In addition to helping others, another way to keep things in perspective is simply taking time to enjoy our surroundings. REI is one company that has chosen to not participate in Black Friday and is instead encouraging people to get outside. Star Tribune has also advertised that Minnesota State Parks are joining in the “get outside” movement by offering free admission to all state parks on Black Friday.

You can find a list of Minnesota State Parks and their locations here:

I hope we can all keep things in perspective this holiday season by giving to others, enjoying our surroundings, and truly cherishing the moments we get with family and friends.

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