I have to start this post with a full confession: I don't "do" holidays. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a collector of any sort of holiday tchotchke, and those that have been (thoughtfully) given to my all these years, live in a box in my over-cluttered basement, not on my fireplace mantle. And while I appreciate all of my friends and family who pin and post about the decorations they are going to put on their walls, the food they are going to serve, and how they found the perfect pumpkin/scarecrow/turkey/reindeer for their dining room centerpiece, it just isn't me.
And shopping on Black Friday, well that just isn't me either. I don't eagerly count the days when I can plan to get my rear out of bed at 2 AM to wait in the cold, in a line, outside a super store, so I can buy stuff. And I like stuff (see previous posts about my hoarders type basement) but I don't need more stuff. I don't need any more scented candles, sweaters, or a scarf, even if all of that is part of an amazing "door buster" deal.
So that's why I am excited to be an ambassador (sounds so swanky) for Giving Tuesday. Especially since I just heard that merchants are opening their doors at 8 PM on Thanksgiving evening in response to consumer requests...so Black Friday is now...Grey Thursday?
And even if I'm not all about the holidays, I am most definitely all about family and community connectivity. And if we have an official day where we as a culture are encouraged to gather together to break bread and break silences, and have a moment where we look around a room and say "thank you" to those who are there (and remember those who are not), I say celebrate that with joy and good cheer. And I believe that everyone, including those employees who will now be asked to leave their families and sell other people stuff, should be able to celebrate as well.
Because at the end of our lives, it won't be the stuff we gave someone that is remembered, it will be the kindness we extended, the compassion we showed, the time we gave to someone even if they didn't have time to give to us.
But okay. Our consumer society has spoken and has great influence. But maybe, just maybe, we can also influence a different type of thinking. I'm not gearing up for Black Friday because I'm gearing up for Giving Tuesday. On Tuesday, November 27, I'll be joining other families, businesses, individuals, and charities to shift the narrative about how we giving during the one time of the year when we are encouraged to be the most giving. Because while we say we know "the reason for the season" we tend to forget what the reason really is. Our hearts, I'm afraid, are often two sizes two small.
What I believe the best part of Giving Tuesday really is, is that it doesn't say don't go and shop (so all my friends feel free to do just that), what it says is create a balance in your efforts. If you got a "great deal" on that new tech gadget, take some (not even all) of those savings and give to a charity, whether nationally or locally. If you were willing to wait in line for four hours, in the cold in order to get that new tech gadget, go spend some time volunteering. And take those who went with you to the super store to the local shelter as well. Volunteering doesn't have to be an individual sport, it actually is more successful when it's a team effort.
Giving isn't about the me, it's about the we. When we give without expectations of reciprocity or acknowledgement, we have truly given. It's about recognizing that, as Dickens said, "no one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."
It isn't about the stuff you give, it's about the stuff you have in your spirit to give. That's what makes it better to give than to receive.
That's what makes Giving Tuesday.