5 things my family does on Black Friday and none of them involve crazy lines or shopping big box stores or missing the day of Thanksgiving at all.
- Sleep in. Go to our garage and get our Christmas tree out and the decorations. Do the holiday seasonal sprucing. Take a nap. Drink homemade hot cocoa. Start our family tradition of our holiday movie watching marathon.
- If we haven’t already picked up an Angel Tree tag or another local charity’s request for a holiday gift, we might go pick that out and get a gift for a child. This year we are taking on a $10 challenge that runs on the Louisville Family Fun site  and using our $10 to buy a gift and learn the value of giving back to others in need. We’ll spend some time on Friday or over the weekend wrapping it and talking about the meaning of our season.
- We grab all of our Christmas and holiday books out of their storage spot and wrap them all up in Christmas paper. I started this tradition with my kids a few years ago and it is by far one of the things my daughter looks forward to the most. We wrap each book and starting on December 1st, the kids get to pick out a wrapped book from the basket and unwrap it! That’s the book we read at family reading time before bed each night. A way to make it local is to shop our local small bookstores for books to add to your collection. Places like A Reader’s Corner  and Carmichael’s  come to mind. Remember Small Business Saturday  is November 30th!
- We go through our bedrooms and think about clothes and toys we don’t need any longer. Every year we give donations to different places around Louisville. Here are some ideas for your family: Bears on Patrol , Jeffersontown Area Ministries  (or other community ministries like this), Life Bridge run out of Southeast Christian Church, or Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana .
- We’ll go back through this list of Random Acts of Kindness  I came up with last year for ideas of paying it forward all year long. We create ideas for our family Advent calendar of activities for the month of December and this year it will be focused on giving rather than receiving.
With the hustle and bustle coming earlier and earlier every year, I’m reminded of something simple I did with my sisters as a child every year on Thanksgiving. My family of five was always together, we were away from extended family and we didn’t travel for Thanksgiving. My mom would spend the entire day cooking and I can still smell the turkey, creamed onions, and pumpkin pie. My sisters and I would write scripts, gather props, and use our stack of construction paper to make costumes for plays we would put on each year for our parents. My fondest memory is of my younger sister and I putting on a magic show for my parents and older sister. It involved a very old boombox with a cassette tape straight from the 80s, a large used refrigerator box, and a hand-me-down black Houdini-like magician’s hat.
I’m just a mother of two, trying to bring back the simplicity to our family’s holidays but also trying to localize what we do as much as possible for our city and people here who could use our help.
Photo by Erin Nevitt