A few years back, I spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws in St. George, Utah. Although I prefer smaller gatherings around the holidays, I enjoyed visiting with relatives, many of which I’d never met before.
After the feast a group of men retreated to the living room to open their laptops and search for Black Friday deals. The women (at least most of them) remained together to discuss their plan of attack for hitting the stores early the next morning. I know this is a generalization, but it seems like men search the internet for bargains while the women prefer to visit the local stores.
And that’s, more or less, how each subsequent Thanksgiving has played out.
The last few years the gathering of friends and family has felt more like a formality that precedes the preparation for Black Friday. I’ve been right there with the rest of them, searching for deals I can’t possibly pass up. One year I was obsessed with finding a Nintendo Wii. I spent hours driving from one Target to another around the Seattle area until I gave up and bought one off Craigslist.
I sold the Wii on Craigslist a few weeks later when my kids decided they liked their old GameCube and N64 better.
While spending Thanksgiving at my brother-in-law’s home this year, I decided to focus my attention on my relative instead of my laptop full of Black Friday deals. I’d say I was 85% successful. I pulled out my iPad to check my email and view a few pictures of my parents who held Thanksgiving at their new home in North Ogden. So I have room to improve, but I did much better than in previous years.
With my kids sequestered downstairs with their cousins, I had the opportunity to speak with my brother-in-law and my in-laws without any distractions. I don’t recall anyone pulling out a laptop or checking their phones for bargains. It was as if I’d stepped back to 1992 when stores opened at 6 am the next morning instead of midnight.
Leading up to Thanksgiving it was impossible to turn on the TV or radio without hearing about the latest door-buster deals some retail store was advertising. This year I finally got tired of it all. The thought of adding more shiny things we don’t need and can’t afford makes me ill. The kids have so many games it would take them a few lifetimes to finish them all. I look out past my two large monitors and see three printers, a new router, and my iPad and iPhone and wonder how many gadgets I really need?
I’m not worried about the producers of Hoarders showing up at my door, but I feel like our home is shrinking in size due to all the unused junk piling up around me. All these machines, appliances, and gadgets that are supposed to make our lives easier actually make our lives a lot more cluttered. I often want to open the doors to our garage and toss everything we own into the street and start over. My mother is a minimalist and I must have inherited that gene because I can’t stand clutter around me. It makes me irritable.
So this year maybe I turned a corner. And I did so without getting trampled, pepper sprayed or tossed to the ground by cops.