It happens every year. I suddenly realize it is soon Christmas and I haven’t done what I intended to do a year ago: Buy all the Christmas presents and have it ready before December 1 so I can enjoy the season. Today, my mission was twofold. I was going to stores to see if some of them would want to buy some bracelets refugee women and other poor women had made. I have designed cards to go along with them that explains that by buying a bracelet, you help a child go to school for a year. In my mind it is the perfect gift for the person who has everything. In my naiveté I thought store owners would love the idea and gladly sell them for no profit other than a much better conscience for selling all the other stuff. My second mission was to see if some potential gifts popped off the shelf and called my name, or the name of some of my relatives who expect a present from me.
At the first store I went to I met a lady whom I referred to as the bi_ch for the rest of the day.With utter contempt she stared me down and sighed a sigh that said it all: “Are you freakin’ kidding with me, lady? Do you really think I will sell these hideous bracelets in my store?” She rolled her eyes while she looked at me, and said loud: “Where would I put these, they don’t fit anywhere.” I felt my voice disappear into my stomach and said, like I had thought when I entered, that she could just put them on the counter next to the cash register. I didn’t really see that it would cause a huge problem. “Honestly,” she said, “no, thanks.” Then she turned on the stiletto heals and stamped out of the room, leaving me alone, feeling like a little school girl who had been caught cheating on a test.
The second store was a little better, although the lady behind the counter said: “Do you mean I should sell these and make nothing myself?” I said that, well, yes, that had been my original thought, but if it was hard for her to imagine doing that, we could give her a percentage of the sale. Better that than not selling anything at all.
After this I had the taste of rejection way up my throat. It is my least favorite feeling in the world. It makes me want to lay down on my bed and cover myself with a blanket. It also makes me want to drink alcohol for lunch.
I thought that to shake the feeling off I could act like a normal shopper. So I walked aimlessly around in some stores, trying to find stuff that people might want. It made me dizzy. I felt like my head started spinning. I felt like I was getting sick. Because all I saw was stuff that I didn’t need, and I couldn’t really find much that my friends or family actually needed either. And then I saw all these over-eager sales people being way too nice because they wanted me to buy their stuff. And all I could think of was what would they say if I pulled out my bracelets and asked if they would sell them for no profit. They would not be as enthusiastic, I am sure of it.
Opening my email today the inbox was cluttered with all kinds of sales and special deals. There is no end to it. On top of all this, I kept getting calls from telemarketers who insisted on giving me good deals on this and that. I didn’t want any of it, and I didn’t even want to talk to people whose voices sounded like soft butter. Then I went to get the mail, and what had filled up my mailbox? You got it, pages upon pages of ideas for how to spend my money on more stuff.
Today is a day that I like so much better. We call it Giving Tuesday. They goal of the day is to create a opposite movement. We are tired of the madness and the materialism. We are tired of mailboxes full of advertisements for things we don’t want. We are tired of stressed out women rolling their eyes at us because they realize they won’t be making any money from us. We are tired of long lines to the malls, full parking lots, crowded stores with people pushing to get their ways, heavy bags that give us back pains, and mile-long lines to pay at the cash register.
We are tired of getting encouraged to buy more and more stuff when none of us really need it. We don’t want to buy all their things that are using up the world’s resources, killing monkeys and other species, and forcing men, women and children work for peanuts (not literally). We want to change the meaning of Christmas from shopping, spending and stressing to giving, caring and loving.
I would encourage you to read up on this great idea. You can find lots of info on it HERE, and also HERE. Have you ever taken an UNselfie? Well, you should try. Here are some great examples. If all of us started giving selflessly on #givingtuesday, I am pretty sure the world would start looking very different. Some stores may go out of business, but the employees could do other things, like promote #givingtuesday. Or if they absolutely want to sell stuff, sell fair-trade stuff. Or Partners Bracelets. It is a lot better than selling new iPhones.