Day 15: Simplicity #GIG2017

That time of year again. One that probably actually started last night because it’s so hard to wait a few hours.

As you can see, I’m not shying away from being critical. With it being Black Friday, this is my golden opportunity to remind everyone, in case you actually forgot, that I’m not about this hustle and bustle. The crowds of people bulldozing over one another for a sale. Buying bags upon bags of products that who knows if you actually needed besides getting a “good deal on them.”

And if anyone asks, no, today is not the first official day of the holiday season. That started the second Halloween ended.

But it is the first day we really see the yearly frantic mood surrounding holiday shopping. We’re already bombarded with holiday advertising from every store, each toting the best prices. All the ways you can make this “the perfect holiday.” Right, because what makes or breaks my festive spirit is if I I spent a ton of money and received piles of new things.

Each year, it gets worse and worse. We’ve added extra days for other sales, days especially for going online. We move up the hours of operation, even to Thanksgiving, just to have a larger profit despite retail employees sacrificing family time to work even longer hours. We continue to see people lined up, crowded at doors, running through aisles, forgoing manners and basic etiquette as if we’re starving for these toys and goods. We fall into the capitalistic mindset, wanting more, jumping at the sound of sale, not necessarily looking into what businesses represent before purchasing.

Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for the gifts, spiritual and physical, in my life. I love the opportunity to show I care about others by giving them something thoughtful. I love this season with my whole being, and anyone who knows me can testify to that claim.

But I’m especially grateful for another concept we can practice this time of year that tends to end up on the back burner or forgotten altogether: simplicity. The reality of just being alive in time of great joy and festivities, reminded of the love from family and friends. Cliche as it is, but that’s what this season is truly about.

Since simplicity is, as it suggests, subtle, the screaming-loud advertisers telling us to buy and save more, telling us what we need and don’t need, is what tends to gain dominance and has become what defines this time of year.

You don’t have to be a consumer to be festive and joyous. You don’t have to spend hours seeking out whatever is the hot product of the season to appreciate all that the holidays represent. We can give our love and support. We can give our time and energy. We can give our attention, even better, to local and sustainable businesses over fast fashion and big-name corporations.

You don’t need the biggest things, the flashiest decor, any of that clutter, especially if it causes more stress than joy. That pretty much defeats the purpose of the season, but it’s all-too common to have people ridden with anxiety over buying presents and getting certain things checked off their list of holiday expectations.

At the end of the day, practice the traditions that matter to you most. Give not in quantity, but quality and thoughtfulness. And give to those who might not have the opportunity to receive much, who might be forgotten beneath the constant noise.

I’m grateful for the simple emotions that arise this time of year, the promises it represents, the underlying message of it all. I’m more grateful for the Silent Nights over Decking the Halls when you’re just cozied up near loved ones, a Christmas tree lit up, maybe drinking some tea or hot cocoa and just being still in that moment. I’m grateful that often times, the simplest things can hold the most value.

If you’re brave enough to venture out today to the malls and stores, be my guest. But ask yourself, “What do I really need? Is this the kind of message and atmosphere I want to support? Are the few dollars saved worth it in the long run?” Again, up to you. As long as you take the time to be grateful for what is already in your life, what gifts already in your possession no store can mark down.

Are you a Black Friday shopper? How do you like to slow down during this season and remind yourself to keep things simple?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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