It’s day 74 of 365, post-Thankliving friends!

Today is the day after Thanksgiving, and in many circles is known as Black Friday – the biggest holiday shopping day of the year. Last year I was working for Target on Black Friday, and I can tell you first hand that the actions of people on this day are absolutely animalistic and ridiculous. It is really beyond me why people what to go out and risk their sanity and even their lives (Look what happened to that poor Wal-Mart employee on Long Island last year) just to buy “stuff”. Do you really need it that badly? Our society has become so materialistic. And I’m not even saying I’m immune to this trend…look at my affinity for electronics and cookware. All I’m saying is, shouldn’t you take a step back and look at how materialistic the holiday season has become? When I was little, we of course asked Santa for gifts and even made lists. We were lucky if we got 2 or 3 things off that list in addition to new clothes that we needed. Now, it seems like children are making these ridiculously long lists and expecting to receive every single thing on them…and parents are actually obliging. And the toys and other items they are asking for these days aren’t exactly cheap. I am not yet a parent, but I can assure you that I would NOT raise my child to expect to recieve a big long list of things for Christmas/Yule. They will get what I give them and be happy with it.

I also want to teach my children that the holidays are about giving and sharing more than anything else. I have a friend whose children volunteer with the United Way and help make Thanksgiving and Christmas gift baskets and distribute them. I think it is absolutely amazing that they WANT to spend their time around the holiday season doing those things. They even donate the toys that they get at their birthday to the United Way for less fortunate children. I love it. There are also soup kitchens, clothing drives, animal shelters, retirement/nursing homes, and other volunteer opportunities in your area that children can get involved in. It’s not too late to teach them kindness and giving.

Now, I absolutely do believe in giving gifts for the holidays. However, the gifts I choose to give have meaning and a second opportunity to give behind them. One of my favorite places to shop is The Animal Rescue Site where your purchases go towards food and medical care for a shelter animal. It is one of the many Greater Good Network sites that you can purchase gifts from to support a cause. You can also shop through the Rain Forest site to save acres of rainforest, the Hunger site to purchase bowls of food for those less fortunate, The Breast Cancer site to support free mammograms for women, The Child Health site to support health care for less fortunate children, and the Literacy Site to promote literacy in the United States. These sites feature amazing artisan jewelry, organic clothing, gifts that give more (this is my favorite section because you are giving a gift in someone’s name instead of actually buying them something they don’t need), items for pets, fair trade gifts, and so much more. I never feel like I’m just buying something just so that I have it to give when I purchase gifts from this site. They also always have really great deals on shipping and many times you get a free gift with your order.

I was reading Alicia Silverstone’s blog yesterday and she suggested a really good place to buy Vegan Friendly bath and body products if you like to give those as gifts around the holidays. She even helped design a new line of products with them. You can check out their website here: EcoTools.

Other great sites to purchase holiday gifts that give more:

The Jane Goodall Institute Shop

The World Wildlife Fund

World Of Good

Global Exchange

Ten Thousand Villages

Fisher-Price Precious Planet Items (part of the proceeds go to the World Wildlife Fund)

(If anyone has anything else to add to this, please feel free to do so in the comments!)

As for photos of the day, I’m cheating a bit today by using photos from the animal rescue site of some of the really nice gifts I gave last year. Enjoy them! Don’t eat too many leftovers, don’t hurt yourself shopping, and I’ll see y’all tomorrow!

Turkish Brass Coffee Grinder

Women Hold Up Half the Sky pendant

Sister Ring

Tree of Life Pillow Cover (in red)

Tree of Life Wall Hanging (in red)