Friday, November 28, 2008

Buy Nothing!

There are a couple of American readers of this blog, but they may not get to today's posting for a while because they will be...SHOPPING! Actually, I don't know this for sure, but today, the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. has become one of the biggest shopping events of the year. It's called Black Friday, which may sound negative but refers to the turning point for many businesses when they move from "the red" to "the black" in yearly profitability.

Some time ago the magazine Adbusters encouraged readers to make a countercultural statement by declaring this Buy Nothing Day. The idea came from a Vancouver artist named Ted Dave. This concept has also been picked up in Great Britain where tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day, although the movement hasn't exactly taken the world by storm.

When Jesus speaks to us from the gospels he often encourages simplicity, and he models it as well. While our culture is supposedly based on Judeo-Christian values we have readily embraced consumerism. Even in an uncertain economy we will move relentlessly toward what has become a secularized consumer holiday rather than the celebration of the birth of a baby in a barn.

Do you think you could set aside a "buy nothing" day? How about reducing spending as a lifestyle choice? One blog reader decided to buy nothing new for six months last year after being inspired by an Oprah episode on de-cluttering. She was committed, but I seem to remember her falling off the wagon a few times. Simplifying our lives is hard! We think children are influenced by advertising, but adults enjoy the latest gadgets too.

Could locking up your credit cards be a faith statement? What choices have you made to simplify your life?


Nancy said...

I am really trying to simplify my life by buying fewer materialistic items this Christmas and instead buying bed kits, mosquito nets, school supplies etc. for those less fortunate in our world. I am also making an effort to involve my child in this effort, in that it is important for her to know of those less fortnunate. So bringing it closer to home, for White Gift this year my daughter will purchase something to contribute to our local Salvation Army from her own money and will be involved in the decision as to what wecontribute as well.
I like the idea of a "buy nothing day", maybe we will try it in our house for a day and if that goes well, try it for a week.

Laura said...

I noticed in the Globe yesterday that even Oprah is scaling down her "must haves". I don't think she claims her reasoning to reduce is to focus more on the Christ's birthday and its meaning, but nonetheless, she is a woman of great influence and reduced "stuff" has many merits personally and globally.

Deborah Laforet said...

"Buy Nothing Day" has become much simpler to do out here in the prairies. The closest mall is half an hour away and that is not much of a mall. If we want to do shopping (other than groceries), we go to Regina, which for us is 90 minutes away but for others is much further. It's amazing what you find you really need when you would have to drive three hours to get it.

I think "Buy Nothing Day" is a great idea, but someday I would like to try a "Buy Nothing Christmas." When my boys are a little older, I am hoping to convince the whole family to give it a try.

For now, we will use the Advent calendar to remind us to give to others, to pray for the world, and to remember that Advent is a time of anticipation of the coming Christ.

Laurie said...

I am in the States right now, in LA for a week. Today we are heading to Joshua National Park. As we drove back to our hotel last night we could see people lining up for the night. Some stores opened at midnight, some at six this morning. Some people we talked to in line,line up for the night because it is fun(it is also very warm) they don't even plan on buying anything. They also have a few stores here that everything you but today is for charity. I don't know how much business they do but it is an interesting idea.

Anonymous said...

Every Christmas I threaten to convert to Judaism. I find Christmas stressful and I feel that the meaning of Christmas gets buried under all the shopping and the materialistic. I would love to have a Christmas where instead of gifts we contributed to a charity. I don't think I would have much success convincing my boys that this would be gratifying for them though.

I have to stop listening to the radio for the entire month of December each year because I can't stand the way that even Christmas music has evolved into songs ABOUT shopping. You scarcely hear a hymn anymore. Remember when popular Christmas music included lyrics pretaining to Christ-mas?

David Mundy said...

You are an insightful bunch, and as I read your responses I see that you have made the connection between simplicity and your family Christmas.I commend those of you are trying to figure out how to make Christmas more Christ-centred. We have been poring over some of the alternative catalogues, tryng to figure out what we can do for others rather than getting into that orgy of buying.

Thanks to Laurie for being our "on location" reporter from south of the border!

shirport said...

Did you see the story on the news tonight about the Wal-Mart employee somewhere in NY state who was trampled to death by shoppers as he opened the doors for them to start their holiday shopping?! What madness!

David Mundy said...

And there was a shoot-out at another store where both gunmen died. At the Walmart a young pregnant woman was trampled and suffered a miscarriage. You're right Shirley, there is something insane about all this.