Since I was in university over 20 years ago, I have been an enthusiastic participant in Buy Nothing Day. Founded in Vancouver in 1992, Buy Nothing Day is a day on which people are encouraged to literally buy nothing as a way of reflecting on the negative aspects of our consumer society. Not coincidentally, in the United States it is held on the Friday after Thanksgiving, when many people are rushing out to the stores (and sometimes killing each other) to get a start on their Christmas/Hanukkah shopping.
I love Buy Nothing Day because I think it is all too easy to get caught up in the message that holidays are about things. Giving the best gifts, serving the fanciest foods, and having the most festively decorated home. And while none of those things are inherently bad (especially not the fancy food), every one of them requires an investment of time and energy and comes at the expense of other activities. If you're out pepper spraying someone to get a deal on video games, then you aren't at home playing video games with your family.
For me, Buy Nothing Day is another reminder to be mindful. To think about what is important to me in life and especially during the holidays, rather than just taking directions from advertisements and the dominant culture. Over the years, I've decided to reduce my gift giving, because I don't want more things in my apartment, and because I prefer time with my family to time in the mall. I was reminded of how ridiculous gift giving can be last weekend when I decluttered a huge portion of my apartment, as many of the things I got rid of were things that had been gifted to me. Huge expenditures of time and money had gone into things that I ended up leaving in my apartment lobby for other people to take.
I'm really excited this year to have a full 9 days off over the holidays, which hasn't happened since my last year of medical school in 2009. I could use some of my abundant time off to do more Christmas decorating and shop for Christmas gifts...but there is zero of me that wants to do that. I want to hang out with my nieces and have games days with friends and eat appetizers with my Mom. To me, these are the things that make a holiday. Not anything that I can buy on Buy Nothing Day.
(Edited to add: Ten days! I actually have 10 days! I didn't realize that the Monday (January 1) was a holiday too. WOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOO!!!!!)