This Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is Black Friday.
You might already know this; you might already be gearing up to camp out in Target’s parking lot all night and be the first one in line when they open at 5 am — or 3, or 2, or midnight even.
For those who haven’t heard of it, though, Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year (although, actually, the Saturday before Christmas and a few other days tend to bring in more revenue).
For many stores, this Friday will herald the beginning of being “in the black” — thus the name — when they start making profit and compensate for the year’s losses.
Some people really enjoy the flagrant consumerism of this day, and I’m not blaming store owners for fanning the shopping flames — but it’s usually a brutal, stressful and wasteful day.
A number of people have reported injuries related to panicked and hysterical shoppers, and, in 2008, a Walmart worker was actually trampled to death by a mob breaking down the doors at five minutes to 5.
Besides (and here comes the cheap-preaching part of the column), do we really need all the stuff we deliriously buy for others and ourselves?
I sound like my grandmother, but it’s true. Think about all the other uses your money could be put to — uses that would probably afford a whole lot more happiness for you and your family than the mere acquisition of half of Walmart’s inventory.
In that spirit, I’ve made a list of things you could do on the day after Thanksgiving that don’t include shopping. They may include spending money, but only small amounts, and only in the pursuit of a fun experience.
I’ve also kept in mind that extended families will probably be together, so the list is mostly comprised of things that all generations can do together. Also, who knows when we’re actually going to get a snow that sticks, so I’ve included some options for snowy weather and some for clear.
Go take a hike: Or, depending on the weather and your group’s ability, walk, snowshoe, bike, run, crawl, hop, skip, skateboard, Rollerblade, unicycle. It’s 100 percent free and is a great way to show off our beautiful mountains to out-of-town relatives.
Take a tour: Celestial Seasonings (celestialseasonings.com) gives free tours, as do many of the microbreweries in the area. For a non-walking version, take one of Banjo Billy’s Bus Tours (banjobilly.com), or plan your own tour on Boulder’s bus system. Or just take off in your car and tour any and all of the mountain roads west of us.
Stay inside: Just for fun, visit The Spot (thespotgym.com), a bouldering gym in Boulder. There are routes of all levels, and it’s also just fun to watch. Or visit the Boulderado (boulderado.com), a beautiful Victorian hotel in downtown Boulder. It’s fun just to wander the lobby, or ride the historic elevator.
Celebrate the snow: If winter decides to stick around, go ice skating at the One Boulder Plaza Ice Rink (bouldericerink.com). You’re allowed to buy hot chocolate — but no knick-knacks! Also, consider sledding or snowman building, two other winter classics.
Try one or two out, or make up your own. Then report back, or talk with your friends and family about it.
I’m willing to bet that any of these options will foster more “holiday cheer” and warmth than a beautiful gift ever could.
And you definitely won’t have to worry about getting caught in a deal-crazed mob.
I don’t know about you, but not having to worry about death by trampling is one of my favorite parts of not living in a zoo.
Vivian Underhill’s Boulder Frugalista runs every Tuesday in the Colorado Daily.