Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Just Say "No" to Black Friday and "Yes" to Relaxing!

I spent my formative years working in retail. From the age of 16 - 28 I worked in several different department stores, and then spent another 12 working in retail headquarters in one capacity or another (advertising and Visual Merchandising).

By the age of 21 I pretty much hated Christmas. I even despised holiday music, which used to be my favorite part of the season - something about having it thrumming in the background for two months was more than I could bear. And that was back in the days when "Christmas" didn't start until the middle of November.

"Oooooooohhhh! Let's get up early so that we can push and shove for cheap crap made in China!" she says, just a bit sarcastically...

The day we all hated the most was the day after Thanksgiving, that hallowed day that retailers lust and drool after. Even when I no longer worked in a store but worked at corporate headquarters I was still required to spend the morning of Black Friday in whichever store was closest. Ugh. I'd get up at 6:00 a.m., put on respectable business attire (instead of the elastic-waist sweatpants that were infinitely more appealing!) and haul my bad-attitude self off to the mall to sling junk at sales prices.

No more.

Now that I have my own store, I get to do things my way. The Milkweed Mercantile is closed on "Black Friday" (ewww - I abhor that name!), and I refuse to send out emails and newsletters promoting sales before Thanksgiving. While it may not be the most prudent way to make zillions of dollars, it feels better. I don't go shopping, either.

I encourage you to do the same! Or at least relax on Friday. The Center for a New American Dream has lots of ways to help. Their Simplify the Holidays program is a great place to start!

Some of the things I might be doing on Friday (instead of buying or selling stuff):
  • Staying home.
  • Relaxing.
  • Putting my feet up and reading a good book, or even a bad book. Heck, maybe even a naughty book!
  • Challenge Kurt to a game of cards, pente, or parcheesi. Or invite a group of friends over to do join us.
  • Put together that list for my mp3 that I've been composing in my head.And learn how to load the music onto that thing (note to self: find a 12-year old to help me).
  • Go for a walk. Perhaps I'll take a cute dog for company.
Miss Moneypenny Carleton, who is always available for adventuring!

  • Bake some cookies, and bring a few to a neighbor.
  • Practice singing the harmony part to "Close Your Eyes" (James Taylor/Carly Simon version)
  • Begin to crochet a scarf and pretend that I'll finish it in time to give as a Christmas gift.
  • Make a sandwich using every single part of Thursdays meal in between two pieces of bread and Hellman's mayo - including the stuffing and the cranberry sauce. Perhaps I'll get fancy and run them through  with little plastic swords.
Thanks to Will Cook For Smiles for the use of the photo.

  • Watch Season 1 of Nurse Jackie that just arrived in the mail while I sit on the couch in front of a blazing fire with the cat.
  • Check out what the local kids are up to. The last couple of days it's been looking at all of the cool ice formations everywhere, and checking out the cool things frozen into the pond ice.
  • Call my 84-year old Aunt Melba and tell her that I'm thankful for her.
  • Think up new ideas for Kurt's annual Gift Certificates (see below).

And lets talk about gifts for just a minute. It's really easy to get sucked into the scarcity brainwashing that permeates advertising at this time of year. It's also tremendously easy to get guilted into spending money you don't have on things that people don't really need. Don't buy into it, literally or figuratively.

Some of my favorite Christmas gifts arrived in a big fat tube the year that my three nieces and I exchanged art. I made them quilted pillows in their choice of colors, and they sent me art that they had made. Those pictures make me smile, big time, every time I walk by them.

I also really enjoy giving (and receiving!) gift certificates for service and food. They don't even have to be fancy. I tried to take a photo of some of the ones that I gave to Kurt last Christmas (see below) but the cat decided that the middle of the stack was the perfect place to lounge. Sigh. Anyway, as you can see, they're just scrap paper and scribbling, but were made (and received) with love. Things like "one favorite dinner whenever you want (24 hours notice appreciated)," "one foot rub (15 minutes on each foot)" and "I'll do your firewood chores for one day" come in handy when Kurt feels like pampering himself.

Fionn MacCool - destroyer of all things orderly.

That's it for now. I wish you a happy, calm holiday. Eat good stuff, but not too much. Be kind to yourself. 

Thanks for reading!