I choose not to participate in the always-crowded and frequently violent orgy of consumerism called Black Friday. I do my best to shop locally most of the time, I don’t like crowed craziness, and I know Black Friday is not really a help to local small businesses that can’t afford to deep-discount.
There’s an alternative celebration on the day after US Thanksgiving that resonates more with me: Buy Nothing Day: 24 hours without any purchasing activity. I can’t always do it; sometimes the gas tank is empty or I’m flying home from Thanksgiving in another part of the country. But this year, I see no reason to spend any money today.
Wikipedia has a nice page on the history of Buy Nothing Day and some creative incarnations of anti-consumerism.
Meanwhile, society at large is going in the opposite direction. I was really hoping that the big-box store openings would be a flop. Unfortunately, there were big crowds leaving their families to chase down bargains. This, I see as a blow against workers’ rights. I very much doubt that all the employees working yesterday were volunteering to work on a holiday. In fact, there are demonstrations at Walmarts all over the country today, protesting this encroachment on workers’ family time. In my area of Western Massachusetts, it’ll be 3 p.m. at the Walmart in Hadley.