Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.

Buy Nothing Day

Originally posted to justin.revision8.com on in Crystal Lake, Illinois

Thin wallets don’t guarantee success. Diverse payment options and an eager retail economy simplify spending money one lacks. I tore up my only credit card a year ago, when someone intercepted my payment and modified my check to their credit. Since then, I’ve limited myself to the money I already have. I could not charge even if I suddenly wanted to.

Still, temptation remains. Last month my first iTunes purchase commenced with two mouse-clicks. $10 for a $13 album. Shopping’s made damn easy and the sales are bloody good.

And besides, it’s Christmas.

Herein lies the consolation: Shopping’s not selfish if I’m buying for others. To boot, it helps the economy. We all win. Right?

I’m no economist, so I won’t challenge the financial merits of holiday shopping. Nor will I resort to the anti-commercial counterpunch that always follows sales figures on the evening news and always precedes footage from a soup-kitchen.

But I sense that such occasional shopping (shopping for an occasion, e.g. “it’s not Christmas without presents”) is typically less than selfless, and the quest for the perfect gift is a shallow and loveless pursuit. Giving should spring from a love that does not expect acknowledgment or reward, and does not wait for appointed seasons.

I support Buy Nothing Day not because I consider Christmas presents contrary to the Christmas message in either its religious or civic wrapping. My support comes from my belief that giving needs no occasion and from my experience of finding “perfect” gifts when and where I’m not looking.

Special sales, endless ads, lines outside and inside… I’d rather buy nothing. Today I bought a magazine I buy every month and a cup of tea to drink while reading; later I’ll buy something for dinner with my family. Call me cheap or selfish, if you will. I will not let the holiday spirit possess my wallet — not without a fight. I give when that other spirit moves me.