The Friday after Thanksgiving, most Americans will embark on craze-filled shopping sprees that the rest of the world watches, completely flabbergasted. The day after our major holiday called giving thanks (being grateful for what we have) we go apeshit crazy and wait in department store lines at 3:00 am, we push and shove each other, and race around to buy a whole bunch more stuff.
And most Americans don’t even know the irony, that Friday, November 28 was actually dedicated as Native American Heritage Day by President George W. Bush in 2008. The Native American Heritage Day Bill designates November 28, as a day to pay tribute to Native Americans for their many contributions to the United States through appropriate ceremonies and activities. It was also meant to encourage public elementary and secondary schools to enhance student understanding of Native Americans by providing classroom instructions focusing on their history, achievements, and contributions.
Of course, it’s an unfortunate date, because not only are kids not in school on this Friday every year, but the majority of Americans are busy trampling each other at Black Friday sales, presumably to buy more stuff to be thankful for.
We can turn Friday into a meaningful day if we set aside that day to recognize the beautiful spiritual traditions of Native Americans. Traditions like taking only what you need from the Earth, being generous of spirit, and letting nothing to waste.
It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one’s spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving.― Ohiyesa, Wahpeton Santee Sioux
Here are a couple of suggestions on how to celebrate the old Black Friday by making a commitment to a more meaningful and conscious holiday season:
1) Watch this great video called “Tis the Season to get Trampled” by the makers of “Story of Stuff,” then take their advice at the end.
2) Buy a book by a Native American Author.
We Recommend “The Soul of an Indian” by Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman). Ohiyesa, a Dakota Indian also known as Charles Alexander Eastman, is one of America’s most fascinating and overlooked individuals. Born in Minnesota in 1858, he obtained postgraduate degrees and advised U.S. presidents before returning to traditional living in native forests. This beautifully packaged reissue contains Ohiyesa’s insights on spirit, the human experience, and white culture’s impact on Native American culture.
Or, for something more contemporary and less philosophical, read something by acclaimed author Louise Erdrich, author of twelve novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her newest book is “The Round House.” a New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Finalist.
3) Take the Center for the New American Dream’s Conscious Holiday Pledge:
The holiday season is arguably our greatest cultural paradox. Tradition, family, and faith are obscured by the pressures to spend. We all want to show our loved ones that we care about them, but we don’t want to go broke in the process. And isn’t it possible to celebrate without leaving a trail of trash that will stay in the landfills long after the season has passed?
The pledge includes great tips like: ”GIVE THE GIFT OF TIME” by creating your own gift card for a service -e.g., babysitting, carwashing, petsitting, chores, making dinner, organizing an outing. There isn’t a parent who wouldn’t love a babysitting gift card! Another one of our favorites: “ADOPT A “LESS IS MORE” ATTITUDE” toward holiday decorating. Opt for natural trimmings such as clippings from local evergreens and holly bushes.
To see more great tips, and to take the pledge, go here: New Dream’s Simplify the Holidays Pledge offers many fun and creative actions you can take to add more meaning and environmental mindfulness to the holiday season.
Do you have any conscious holiday tips? Share below!
If you liked this article, then you may enjoy our “Giving Thanks” Article on the real meaning of Thanksgiving.