Sparking Joy Sans Black Friday


Here we are, the tail-end of the year. Remember back in January when you “sparked joy” with all the Marie Kondo-ing you did in your house? And your in-laws did too? And so did your kiddos’ teachers? (i.e. the exact people you are thinking of buying MORE gifts for?) THIS was the year of the purge, people! Everyone was talking about it for months, thanks to Netflix. So how does it make any sense to rush out at 4am on Black Friday, or worse yet, at 5pm ON Thanksgiving, to buy more crap that in reality, none of us actually need? Just say NO to MORE STUFF!

(By the way, I’m not positive, but this HAD to be a good year to find treasures at Goodwill and consignment stores.)

Instead of browsing the Black Friday ads and standing in store lines a mile long, what if we all decided that we “have enough stuff” and opt-out of this crazy crap-buying tradition? Keep in mind, we literally give THANKS the day before, for all the surroundings in our lives – the people, a roof over our heads, the food, so yeah, I guess you could say, I’ve entered my “curmudgeon” phase of life on this topic. 

Here are some ways to purposefully spend Black Friday morning, doing something less focused on obtaining more STUFF:

Make Brown Bag lunches!

Super simple idea, great to teach our little ones the value of kindness and that a bit of effort can make other people happy. Buy a whole bunch of bread, saran wrap, PB & J (or other sandwich-type materials), small chip bags, fruit, cookies, etc. and make bagged meals to pass out in homeless pockets around your city or a spot known to sometimes be frequented by those in need. Many homeless will often linger near shelters or missions when the daytime begins, and perhaps it’s an unsavory part of town to necessarily take your kiddos to, for the handing out. Still, it’s the process they did at home that teaches the value of helping others. Also, nobody says you can’t hand someone two bags – one for now, and one for later. 

Volunteer! (It doesn’t always HAVE to mean a soup kitchen!)

Depending on your climate, outdoor volunteer-ship might be unavailable, but reaching out to local churches (Do they need someone to organize a room or closet for them? Do they have a Sunday school room for kids that needs cleaning?), nonprofit organizations, or hey, grab a trash bag and head out to a local park, parking lot, or area around town that trash or litter is common, and DO SOMETHING! Again, great for kids to participate and watch YOUR example of volunteering take shape. In Indy, the pocket of Broad Ripple near the Monon as well as the region by Tarkington Park and the Children’s Museum, are both known to have quite a bit of litter at times if you are brainstorming areas to seek out. 

Create something for others as a gift!

This one is for those who want to get crafty. Make a Tie-Blanket. Follow these handy instructions. Tie Blanket Instructions with Pictures

Very easy to make! This would be a good one for any person to be given as a gift in lieu of a purchased one (maybe your kiddo’s teacher is a Colts fan or Padres fan, or just likes unicorns – find a pattern on fleece, and let your heart be your guide!)

Make a “busy blanket” for the elderly and those who may be challenged by dementia. These are so cool, and the fulfillment of sending them to an elderly facility is one your children can actively participate in on the day of drop-off. Follow these instructions, and feel your heart grow! How-to Instructions for an activity blanket

Load up an old mp3 player or iPod with music for the elderly or even donate the actual devices to local at-risk youth organizations. A simple one: dig up your old devices, wipe them, and reload them with music and playlists that those in older generations would enjoy – and hey, nobody said Lester in room 405 hates “Uptown Funk” so throw that on there too! Again, deliver these to centers or locations that others could use them. Marie Kondo would be SO proud. Here is a list to get you started! Music for Older Individuals

The Copper Trace facilities at 1250 W. 146th St., in Westfield (46074) will gladly accept such donations for their residents at any time of year!

These ideas can jazz up Black Friday in a new way. Also, the destruction of retailers’ Black Friday would be one of my political platforms should I seek office (sarcasm alert). The moral of the story here is that we all sometimes moan that we just don’t have enough TIME. So swap the hours at Target loading your cart, or hours at the mall fighting for a sweater, for sparking joy with your kids that maybe become a yearly tradition in your home, and the generations that come next. Again, just say NO to MORE STUFF!