Keep on Thanking: Turning Black Friday Back into Thanksgiving

I have a friend who used to drag me – stuffed as I was with turkey, pumpkin pie and, well, stuffing – to the mall on midnight of Thanksgiving Day. We spent hours combing the stores for the best deals. Going from a warm meal filled with family, gratitude, and laughter to a frenetic, sharp-eyed shopping excursion sort of felt like whiplash. While I, too, have been making a list of things to buy on Black Friday (crossing my fingers that my kids can go without winter accessories until then), I’ve also been thinking of ways to take the magic of Thanksgiving and keep it going through Black Friday.

  1. If you do go shopping (particularly with your kids), try to buy one thing for a family or person less fortunate than you are. Check out what homeless shelters in your neighborhood need or find out about local coat drives or holiday toy drives. Make sure you’re explicit with your kids about what you’re doing and why. Something along the lines of: “Today is a great day to buy things for our family! There are some people in our community who do not have enough money to buy X, so we’re going to be good neighbors and help them out.” With older kids, it’s a good opportunity to talk about sales and explain that you’re taking some of the money you’re saving and using it to helping others.
  1. Call or visit someone who may be lonely. We all know people who are alone on Thanksgiving or who are going through challenging times in their lives. Sometimes it’s not realistic to invite them for the Thanksgiving meal. That doesn’t mean you can’t give them a dose of cheer on Black Friday. If they live nearby, make a point of dropping by with some Thanksgiving treats. If they’re far away, pick up the phone and say hi.
  2. Read a book about America with your children. If you’re eating leftover turkey for breakfast (and you’re not running out the door), this is an awesome opportunity for a family read-aloud!  Among our favorite reads – including picture books for the younger kiddos and chapter books for the older ones – are: This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie and illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen, Mollie’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, and King George: What Was His Problem? by Steve Sheinkin.
  3. Family Art Project. It is tempting to turn the tv on while you try and seize some online sales or scrub the cranberry stains out of the tablecloth. See if you can take half an hour to do something creative and fun with your kids. If you can upcycle by using materials lying around your house, all the better! My daughter and I made wreaths out of popsicle sticks I had bought, but never used. She made it as a thank-you gift for my aunt and glowingly spoke about it for weeks afterward. If you keep shoe boxes, each member of the family can decorate one as a miniature room or a scene from a story. I’m not super crafty, so the name of the game is simple. It’s just about bonding with your kids, having fun, and getting the creative juices flowing!