If I lived in Bedford Falls I might enjoy the hustle and bustle of Christmas Shopping with the rest of the townsfolk, excluding mean ol' Mr. Potter. But I live in a metropolitan area with over a 1,000,000 other souls and no freeways. I am not your typical American Shopper. I consider shopping to be in line with gathering and hunting in that for me shopping is about taking care of my family at the highest level. I grew up on a farm so one of the earliest lessons I remember learning was that taking care of family extended to taking care of the land. Quite simply working for short term gain or whimsical needs were villainy in my family culture that was pretty much in line with the U.S. and world's previous agrarian culture.
Hippies loved mom, the “organic” egg lady who composted, used hand loomed rag rugs, and connected with their philosophy if not their actions. Me, I was born the same week as Sid Vicious so I wasn't quite as keen on hippie-dom. But I was the Practical Punk so to speak and I incorporated things that first and foremost made sense to me, as did most of the Later Born Baby Boomers who were far too young to be Hippies.
The first house a boyfriend and I bought, and boy was that a mistake but that is a story for another post, largely came about because financial adversity has followed me throughout my life. At 16 there was the mid-1970s gas shortage and the economic crisis that was the first bubble bursting in the sudsy falseness of 1950s and 1960s America. Prime interest rates were over 17 percent when in 1980 when he and I assumed a mortgage with a 10 percent interest rate that seemed like a deal at the time. People back then assumed that property always increased in value. Back then people were stupid. The person we bought the house from paid too much for it, and the boyfriend whom I shall call Sluggo gave her $5000 more on the house than she had paid. (I remember disagreeing while standing over the stove as green peppers and mushrooms sautéed but I was cowed by this guy and he had convinced me he should make all the financial decisions.) So basically, we were fucked from the get go, but it did not really become clear until a couple years later when Ronnie Rayguns began building his new world order by sending emissaries like Rumsfeld to meet with Saddam , breaking unions, and allowing foreign agents, like Murdoch, to buy and control “American” media which had never been allowed.
So anyway, I blame the patriarchy, war, and greed for so effing up our country and economy that people are still convinced that buying created-in-China by essentially endentured servants, petroleum-based plastic crap from Wal-mart is somehow a traditional American way to spend Thanksgiving weekend. This is just downright delusional. Do you have the money in your pocket to buy those out-sourced, your brother in law in Indianapolis lost-a-job-making-televisions-to-that-company, products , or if you want the ease and few protection perks that using a credit card can give you, do you have the cash amount in your bank account to pay off the total amount before interest charges begin to accrue on that purchase? If not, then maybe you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your holiday traditions.
Don't be a Scab!
Even though I grew up on a farm, the land was a couple hours south of Detroit, and factories had invaded our lovely countryside mid-Twentieth Century. My dad was one of the few remaining farmers who didn't run a farm AND work in a factory to make ends meet. This was before all women worked outside the home. All she did was raise and preserve from a huge garden that fed our family, raise and take care of up to a couple thousand chickens, sell eggs from home and manage a weekend egg delivery route as well as be active in the Ladies Auxillary of the Thorncreek Volunteer Fire Department so they could supply the Volunteer Firemen, their husbands and sons, with protective equipment. We were a hard working community and you did NOT cross a picket line.
This second video below is to a Rebel Diaz video but if you want to hear a more current interpretation listen to this Ani DiFranco from this past year
And just for grins, a link so you could listen to Pete Seeger doing one for the Union Maids and Ladies Auxilary.
The woman who wrote the lyrics to “Which Side Are You On” Florence Reece was an amazing woman. Here is a video of her singing a bit of her song that she wrote after SCAB thugs broke into her house to rough up her husband but instead terrorized her and her children.
and some info about Florence from Wikipedia:
“Which Side Are You On?” is a song written by Florence Reece in 1931. Reece was the wife of Sam Reece, a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky. In 1931, the miners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle with the mine owners called the Harlan County War. In an attempt to intimidate the Reece family, Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men (hired by the mining company) illegally entered their family home in search of Sam Reece. Sam had been warned in advance and escaped, but Florence and their children were terrorized in his place. That night, after the men had gone, Florence wrote the lyrics to “Which Side Are You On?” on a calendar that hung in the kitchen of her home. She took the melody from a traditional Baptist hymn, “Lay the Lily Low”, or the traditional ballad “Jack Munro“. Florence recorded the song, which can be heard on the CD Coal Mining Women.
Anyway, back to the topic of SHOPPING, er, I mean Thanksgiving…
I confess I have never understood the fascination with this national day of shopping. I suppose that is because I have never really had enough money to just go out and shop, shop, shop. My husband makes a good salary, finally, but when he was an Assistant Professor, going blind from cataracts at age 40, and I was working for between $14 and $24 K for full-time on call all the time (really) and expected to be at work from 7:30 to 5:30 every weekday and dealing with what turned in totally debilitating depression while raising our daughter and while my step daughter was still in high school and college, well, let's just say that shopping was not top thing on my mind.
I've had a pretty good life as an adult, we have a comfortable home, but neither Hubby nor I ever went for coordinated new sets of furniture or the like. I had antiques from my family and Hubby's mom worked as an antique dealer when he was a kid, so we both expected craftmanship in furniture. Neither of us ever liked synthetic fabrics for clothing. We liked to cook real food and when I served anything that had come from a package Hubby noted it, he ate it but he began cooking more and more because I would buy the occasional frozen lasagna. I guess neither of us ever bought into the more is better and shiny plastic is okay mentality.
It is crowded on Black Friday, I don't want to get my granddaughters plastic crap. My poor Zilla had to make do with computer learning based games; we never bought her Nintendo, PS any number, and the like. I have never shopped on the most crowded shopping day of the year. This year with Walmart workers striking, I will not be there shopping either. But then I haven't been in a Walmart in years and years.
Buy Nothing Day
Not only do I not shop on Black Friday, I participate in Buy Nothing Day. The activities can be really fun. This year I think I will park in Walmart's and other open on Thanksgiving day vendors' parking lots on Thanksgiving night and blast versions of ” What Side Are You On” to the throngs of zombified shoppers. Relaxation rather than action is also a very good way to just hang out with your family, start some traditions, and be with your family while encouraging stores and corps. to back off the brainwashing, because we want National Holidays days when people don't have to work. Make holidays into Holy or Precious Days to be spent with families having fun or doing things together. There is plenty of time to shop. A month is a long time… and OMG… you could wait for the after Christmas sales if there is an expensive appliance or toy that you have to have. But before you convince yourself that you have to have something, ask yourself some questions.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE A PURCHASE
- Do I really need this?
- Why do I want this?
- Will I wear it or use it?
- Can it be reused?
- How long will it last?
- Did advertising convince me that I need this?
- Can I really afford this?
- Would the money be better put toward something else?
- Who made this?
- Who makes the profit on this item?
- Is it made from a non-renewable resource? (Petroleum based plastic, for example?)
- Can you be sure no coercive, or slave-like worker conditions we involved in it's production.
- Does the manufacture of this product use threatened or endangered component parts from fragile ecosystems?
- Does this purchase make the world better or worse for my children, grandchildren and descendants?
Shop Local Saturday
Shop Local Saturday is a campaign of American Express. That in and of itself was enough to make me suspicious, but that is just me. I do wonder why we don't make every day a shop local day? Try locally owned first, before going on to regional, national, and international merchants. I suspect the American Express backing of this local concept has benefit to AmEx that most folks do not stop to think about, such as recruitment of local small businesses to accept AmEx Cards while it encourages potential card carriers to equate local shopping with credit use. These pairings do not immediately come to mind at the moment. But AmEx is attempting to change that.
I still think I will shop local and pay cash when I can. Money stays in the local economy that way. And I don't want to give the big banks and financial institiutions any more business than I absolutely have to give to them.
Ultimately our consumption patterns determine energy use, waste production, and have impact on the biosphere of Earth and the weather patterns within it. We must change everything we do, how we do it, and how we think about it if our grandchildren are live in a habitable world when they are our age. As the people who drive this consumption machine, we have a choice.
The choice I am making is to be conscious. I will not participate in Friday's buying frenzy. I will not buy from retailers who are open on Thursday. I will support striking workers. I will keep my purchases to well thought out ones that support concepts I believe in, because I know I make a difference. I am even going so far as scouring thrift stores, of which Tucson has an abundance, for amazing finds. I have found several wonderful, unused treasures and beautiful vintage pieces of jewelry and hand craft their wrappings and give them with pride.
We all make a difference by what we choose to do.