By Sherry Ackerman Last year on Black Friday, mayhem erupted at big-box stores all across the country as frenzied shoppers vied for holiday deals, turning on each other and resorting to violence to get their goods. Reports of retail assaults, shootings and arrests piled up so fast that by Thursday night, Black Friday already had [...]

By Sherry Ackerman
Last year on Black Friday, mayhem erupted at big-box stores all across the country as frenzied shoppers vied for holiday deals, turning on each other and resorting to violence to get their goods. Reports of retail assaults, shootings and arrests piled up so fast that by Thursday night, Black Friday already had a trending Twitter hashtag. Somehow, this doesn't sound befitting of a holiday designed to give thanks.
I think that we can do better than this.
Inspired by REI, which grabbed headlines last month by saying they would be closed on Black Friday, a San Francisco nonprofit dedicated to saving redwood trees is following suit.
For the first time this year, Save the Redwoods League is sponsoring free admission to 49 participating California State Parks on Nov. 27, billing the unprecedented event as 'the best bargain you're going to find this Black Friday.' It strikes me that a day spent in one of California's State Parks far outstrips getting trampled at a big box store.
Black Friday could be a day to sort through your closet and prepare a couple of boxes of unwanted clothing for donation to local area thrift shops. Our area thrift shops are important contributors to local well-being by offering quality items to area residents at reduced cost, donating monies to local non-profits and aligning with good causes such as spay and neutering.
Rather than coming home from the mall with more 'stuff' to jam in the closet, it might make more sense to hoe the closet out and share unused items with others.
Volunteering " even if it's just picking up litter or walking an elderly neighbor's dog " would take the 'black' out of Black Friday. You'll not only be bypassing the madness of consumerism-on-steroids, but you'll be brightening the world for those around you.
Don't throw it away " give it away! Turning Black Friday into Freecycle Friday is an idea that has a lot of appeal for me. Freecycling occurs when a person gives, for free, an unwanted item to another person who needs that item. This practice has a lot of value as it cuts down on the need to manufacture new resource intensive goods.
An easy way to make this happen would be for participants to put their free items at the end of their driveway, with a FREE sign, this Friday. People looking for items could drive around to see what's out there, ultimately, getting what they need. What a great way to meet your neighbors and turn an otherwise stressful day into easy-going fun.
Frankly, I'm going to take my horse out for a romp in the woods before real winter sets in. It's a day for doing what we love. I seriously doubt that anyone loves the prospect of getting up at the crack of dawn to line up on a chilly sidewalk outside of a discount store.
So, take some time and reflect upon what you are passionate about. Then, spend the day doing it and, in the process, turn Black Friday into 'Thanksgiving Weekend' again!