Buy nothing, buy small, or just stay home

Last night, coming home from Thanksgiving dinner with my relatives, we had to swing through a shopping center so my brother could drop off a deposit at his bank. This particular strip mall is anchored by–yippee!–a Walmart.

And wouldn’t you know, at 10 o’clock at night, it was swarming with shoppers. The parking lot was full and a small army of guys in fluorescent vests were directing traffic. People were parking at nearby restaurants and hoofing it over grassy medians to get to the ‘mart. It looked like a cross between a natural disaster and a music festival.

I’m probably behind the curve, but this is the first year I’ve heard of Christmas shopping that starts on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll spare you the obvious rant about the desecration of a previously uncommercialized holiday. Instead, I will simply point out that today is Buy Nothing Day. Put down your credit cards, engage with people you care about, and make something with your hands. Dinner counts.

(By the way, I like the suggestion on the Buy Nothing Day site about joining a local credit union this holiday season.)

Then, tomorrow, get a jump on your gift list while celebrating Small Business Saturday. We all know and appreciation Charlottesville’s locally-owned businesses, and this is a chance to give ’em some extra love. One of the things I’ve long been grateful for, living here, is that I can find all the Christmas gifts I need without setting foot in a big box. Long live mom-and-pops!

Happy holidays, everybody.

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