When I was young and people mentioned Black Friday, I became very scared. For some reason, I believed I would be forced to eat black jelly beans all day and mandatory licorice is a terrifying concept to a seven-year old. Not that the real Black Friday is any better--shopping at Walmart at 4 a.m. is akin to drinking cod liver oil after brushing your teeth. (No offense to those of you who enjoy the taste of minty fish.)
Black Friday is called such because it is usually the day retailers move from “the red” into turning a profit. Black is a gloomy (albeit slimming) color. A day of complete unbridled spending on everything you never knew Person X really needed should at least be called Maroon Friday, which is the color of buyer’s remorse.
This year I propose we invent a new type of Friday that pulls away from the in-your-face marketing of the season and gets back to basics. I seem to recall lyrics from a Christmas carol mentioning compassion, reflection and loving your neighbor--though I could be confusing that with an episode of Desperate Housewives.
Pink Friday: a day of total selflessness. While I agree supporting the economy is vital, there will be ample time for last minute crusades to find the perfect, or at least returnable, gift. Let’s take this one day to support those who really need help, not argyle socks.
Here are some wonderful causes to inspire your inner-elf:
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee; elephants.com. They provide care for sick, old and needy elephants that have been removed from zoos or circuses. $30 feeds an elephant for a day. They also educate the public on the crises facing elephants in the wild as well as in captivity. If you ever are in the area they welcome volunteers.
Your local animal shelter or Petfinder.com: Along with the housing crisis came an overabundance of pets dropped at shelters. If considering giving into Jr’s obvious hints for a pooch or feline, please adopt rather than buying one at a pet store. Adopting our dog was one of the most wonderful things we have done for our family.
A Billion for a Billion; www.wfp.org/1billion: The World Food Programme launched a campaign that challenges the billion internet users to help feed the billion starving people in the world. Just a $5.00 donation feeds a baby for a year. $50.00 feeds a school-aged child for a year.
Blessings in a Backpack; blessingsinabackpack.org: One in six American children don’t know where their next meal is coming from. In a country like ours, that statistic is disgusting. This charity sends children home with a backpack filled with food each weekend. $80.00 feeds one child for a weekend for the entire school year.
Any Soldier; http://anysoldier.com: This organization puts your mail and packages into the grateful hands of the soldiers overseas that don’t receive a lot, if any, mail.
Give Yourself: donate blood; pick up trash around your neighborhood; work in a soup kitchen; read to the elderly; smile at a stranger; use your local library; ask a teenager what music you should listen to...there are tons of ways we can all help make our communities the places we want them to be.
Shop Locally: If the potent pull of Black Friday’s deals is too much for you, then please support your local boutiques, artisans and watering holes. As much as I love Starbucks and Target, we need to maintain the charm and uniqueness that makes our cities shine, regardless of how much tinsel we throw around.