It’s almost here — Black Friday. The big shopping day that follows the big eating and giving thanks day (although those lines are blurred more each year). There is something admirable about avoiding the frenzy altogether, but let’s be realistic. If you are going to venture out on Friday to start, continue, or finish your Christmas shopping, how do you avoid losing yourself in the consumer-driven, line-cutting, short-tempered mayhem? Here’s a guide for making it through the mall with your spirit intact:
Be grateful. Say thank you, out loud and with gusto, to anyone who holds open a door, moves aside in the aisle, or lets you pass them for a parking space. Remember, Thanksgiving — a day meant to celebrate gratitude — was only a few hours ago. Keep that attitude of gratitude going!
Be generous. Chances are you’ll stop for coffee on your way to the mall. You might even take a break from the bargains to grab lunch. Show your barista or server some extra love on a day when they are probably overwhelmed with demanding customers, and leave a generous tip.
Be kind. The Christmas season is about love and joy, but it’s also stressful. Some of your fellow shoppers are stressed — probably even you. So, be kind to others. Give people the benefit of the doubt; look people in the eye; smile. And be kind to yourself. Don’t overdo it. Do you get grumpy if you haven’t eaten in a while? Pack a granola bar for those long lines. If you push yourself to your shopping limits, you will start to get impatient with other people. This is not good for them or for you.
Be present. I’m not talking about a wrapped-up-with-a-bow present. I’m talking about the acknowledge-where-you-are present. Notice who is around you. Start with the friends and family who may have ventured with you to the stores. Next, look at the diverse sea of humanity that joins you. These are your neighbors. You are journeying together today.
Be creative. The big box retailers are the go-to stores Black Friday with their early bird and even twilight specials. Mix things up. Visit some of your local merchants. Make the trek from the mall to the “downtown” area near you and walk around. You might be surprised at what you find. And don’t forget Small Business Saturday — a day to celebrate the small businesses in your community. I’m sure they will have good deals too.
Be in an attitude of prayer. Long lines? Stuck in traffic? Say a prayer for the family and friends you are buying gifts for. Or remember those who are facing great hardship at this time of year. (See: refugees and displaced people in Syria, survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the people who are homeless in your community, families who are struggling to make ends meet, and the list goes on.) And if you find yourself even for a second starting to think unkind things about the woman holding up your checkout line — say a prayer for her.
Be aware of what you spend. The packages are piled high in the trunk of your car. Your arms are weighed down with gift bags. You have receipts for everything, so at the end of the day total up what you’ve spent. (Note: You might want to include Black Friday, the weekend, and Cyber Monday in this exercise too.) Now, make a commitment to give 10% of that amount to a charity or charities this Christmas season. #GivingTuesday is next week. You can start there.