Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Giving Tuesday

Remember when the holidays were simpler? 

Back when I was growing up in New York City, Thanksgiving was the official start of the Christmas season. But not because big box retailers were open on holidays or at 4:00 am or advertising "doorbusters." (Interesting trivia, btw. Look up the word "doorbuster" and you'll find "a special discount price available for a limited period, typically during special early-opening hours." But it's also defined as "a firearm with special attachments for forcing entry through a door." Hmmm. A coincidence? Maybe not. More like a warning. Basically, you want to stay away from any Walmarts on Black Friday in open carry states.) 

But, I digress.

In my childhood, Christmas started when Santa Claus and his entourage rode by at the end of the Macy's parade. We shopped — slowly and sanely — over the next three weeks or so. Although last minute trips to Woolworth (Remember Woolworth?) were fairly common too.

When I see Black Friday footage online or on the news, I'm ashamed of us. Really, people! One day earlier (or earlier that day, depending on where you shop), you sat around a table with loved ones, thanking God or whomever for all you have. Whether you believe the Pilgrims were peaceful settlers or murderous invaders, today's holiday is supposed to be about gratitude, right?

So where does all that gratitude go when flat-screen TVs and Tickle Me Elmos — "Doors open at 5:00 am!!! Limited supply!!!" First 50 customers only!!!" — are on sale?

Out the window, apparently.

Here are a few things I'd rather do than participate in Black Friday:
• Eat kale, raw, without salt or anything
• Get a root canal
• Read my daughter's book list for Honors English 12

There are many (many, many) more.

So, let's all forget Black Friday. (And its digital spin-off Cyber Monday.) This year take a minute for (and take your teen to) givingtuesday.org to start a better tradition. The movement
#GivingTuesday was started four years ago at the 92nd Street Y (in my hometown). It's meant to be "a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration." Instead of kicking off the shopping season, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season. It celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy. 

Although it's still a new idea, #GivingTuesday has already generated a lot of interest, buzz and much needed support and donations for worthy causes, ranging from schools to not-for-profits, religious organizations, community and social causes, and more. Today, #GivingTuesday is supported by 30,000 partners in 68 countries. It's generated 15.4 billion print and social media impressions (32.7 million on Twitter alone) and more than 750,000 hashtags. Most important, since 2012, it's been responsible for a 470% increase in online donations.

What a better use of our money and time than crushing each other to grab a coffee maker or a Barbie Dream House.

Put the "giving" back in Thanksgiving.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my book  Lovin' the Alien.   

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