My Life You Don’t Have to Shop: Black Friday Alternatives by Laurie Medina Soon it’ll be that time of year again! Hobby Lobby will look like the inside of Santa’s bag exploded everywhere, and people across the country will be laying belly up on the sofa in a food coma from all the Thanksgiving noms. via GIPHY For most Americans, the festivities will continue into the weekend — with endless shopping and lines and bags full of new and exciting purchases. Didn’t we just give thanks? Don’t you find it just a little bit ironic that on the very next day after Thanksgiving, we all feel the need to go out and buy everything in Target? (Well, that’s me – maybe you’d rather hit up Best Buy). While finding good deals and treating yourself or a loved one to a pretty sweet gift, I’ll admit, is pretty thrilling and all, I try to avoid Black Friday shopping altogether. I’d rather be doing a million things than dealing with crowds or camping out at 4 am to wait for the doors to open or trying on clothes after having just spent the previous day feasting. Don’t get me wrong, I do like shopping, and I am definitely not criticizing anyone who partakes in the Black Friday phenomenon – I myself do enjoy a good find! I just find it odd, that, in a country which emphasizes being grateful for the freedoms we enjoy and the luxuries we have, we also have millions of people lining outside shopping malls in the dead of night waiting to bust through the doors. via GIPHY Lean into a spirit of abundance. As Christians, we are called to live out of a place of abundance, and to reject the spirit of materialism which consumes our society. Giving thanks isn’t just for a day! Continue to focus on the good that fills your life and be genuinely grateful for the gifts our Lord has given you — whether that be a good education, your support system, your friends and family, your home and all that fills it, the clothes you wear, your ability to even read this blog post on a computer or phone; your capacity to think, feel, and love freely. And if you don’t believe me about those “a million things” I mentioned before…Well, here. I’ll give you a few just to get you started. Instead of coming home at the end of Black Friday feeling spent (literally), let’s have a day well spent, shall we? 1. Have a movie marathon. I don’t know about your family, but mine takes pride in our love of staying home in our pajamas and having a good old-fashioned movie marathon. Bring out the blankets, the popcorn, and snacks, and share in each other’s company while watching a good film or films. Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, anyone? 2. Go for a long walk or hike. Get OUTSIDE and enjoy the gift of the great outdoors. Breathe in fresh air and get your heart pumpin’! Whether it’s a strenuous hike with an incredible view or just a stroll around the neighborhood park, going for a good walk can clear the mind and fill your heart with all sorts of positivity – and, at least for me, gives a new perspective of gratitude. Hey, look! All of this was created for you! Enjoy it. 3. Play cards or board games. Nothing says the holidays like a little dash of competition to bring people together, am I right? 4. Create a gratitude journal. Sit down and really think about all the ways you’ve been blessed this year. Make a list of at least 20 things you are grateful for, and give it some time for reflection. If you’re able, sit in the presence of our Lord in adoration or before the tabernacle and honestly share your heart with Him in gratitude for all that He has done! 5. Have good conversations. One of my absolute favorite things to do ever is to have good conversations with people. Maybe today you can call up a good friend you haven’t seen in a while or grab coffee with a pal and really talk free of distraction. How often do you ask the good questions, or actually let people know out loud how thankful you are for them? The day after Thanksgiving seems like just as good a day as any to convey your gratitude to a friend or loved one. 6. Try something new. Have you always wanted to make a DIY Christmas wreath or build your own dream house out of popsicle sticks? Even if it sounds cheesy, doing a fun arts and crafts activity like this with family or friends is a fun way to pass the time and forget about the world around you for a little while. How often do you get to revisit the simpler times of elementary school with some construction paper and glue sticks? Now’s the time, friend. 7. Focus on the people around you. Put away your phone and for one day just stop comparing yourself to the people you follow on social media or scrolling through Instagram mindlessly. Focus on whoever is in your company – whether that be relatives still in for the Holiday weekend or friends who’ve come around to hang. Whether you’re baking or playing board games or any of the above – be especially present to the people around you and just rejoice in the gift of their presence! You may notice a common theme throughout my suggestions of things to do instead of shopping on this Black Friday, and that is GRATITUDE and PRESENCE. Instead of going out to fill your life with material things, fill your life with good memories and people. Instead of buying things that will pass away, spend time with people who are worth infinitely more. Instead of losing time on your phone, engage with the people close to you and have fun together! You don’t need to shop. Really. You don’t!