Thanksgiving is just about to dawn here in the US, and that means one thing: everyone’s obsessed with Black Friday sales. And it’s no different for the geeks, all striving to get the best deals on hardware, gadgets, movies and games.
I’ve always hated the juxtaposition of Thanksgiving and the crazed Black Friday sales. I mean, it really eclipses the whole concept of Thanksgiving to turn around, still bloated from eating so much turkey and trimmings that you practically roll out the door at 6am, and bolt for the department stores the next morning. Wait, what? Weren’t we just talking about all the things we’re thankful for having? And now we’re going out and getting more stuff?
Sure, your money is your prerogative. I’m not going to lecture people about how they spend their money, or who they should spend it on. All I’m asking is that we think about letting the thankful season linger a little longer.
So before we all skip out to Tiger Direct this weekend, here are a few geeky ways to be thankful for what you’ve got, with the hope that the warm, fuzzy feeling might linger a little longer than 24 hours.
Be thankful for a piece of old technology that still works. If you really like it, send a letter or an email to the company. In my case, it’s an old cell phone I own that predates my son, the Sony Ericsson W300i. No, I know this is no smart phone–but I do have an iPod Touch for all the fancy stuff. For whatever reason, the little Sony phone just works with my brain and I’ve been loathe to replace it, even as parts of it are starting to fall off (it’s over four years old, and my primary phone). I actually replaced it once with a Motorola Razr V3 to complete failure. The Motorola had the worst UI I’ve ever encountered, and it’s now dormant in a drawer (more on that later). So, if you’re out there, Sony: thanks for that rad little phone!
Watch a movie that brings you back to your childhood. Movie marathons have become a huge staple of the holiday season, but why not make your own? Instead of groaning at yet another showing of Transformers, why not watch the original Star Wars, or Tron. (My personal choice this year just might be WarGames.) There’s something about nostalgia that can really bring about a feeling of thankfulness; I mean, really—it’s a good time to be a geek!
Do something really nice for someone in game. Whether it’s giving out a free enchant, whipping up a batch of those Rhino Dogs, or just being extra courteous, it’s pretty easy to make someone’s day in-game. Too often geeks and players in general are just absolutely rude to one another. So while you’re questing and gaming, take the time to be nice. If you can’t find anyone to be nice to, consider thanking your guild leaders. Or, if you’re really adventurous, thank a GM!
Donate some tech time to a family member… without grumbling! Yes, we know. Just because we’re geeks, everyone seems to think we can magically fix and repair every electronic device. We take for granted the language of technology, and sometimes it’s quite apparent to those around us that, well, they have no clue and we have much better things to do than help them install Windows 7 again. So, to spare the anxiety, plan ahead. Do it with a smile. You’ll really make someone’s day.
Donate your spare cell phones to a shelter or to the military. What might be useless to you could make all the difference in a person, especially those in the armed forces and many women escaping abuse in shelters. To get started, check out Cell Phones for Soldiers and Shelter Alliance. Not to mention, recycling your cell phone is good for the environment, too.
Donate to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play Charity. Really, it doesn’t get much better or geekier than this. My husband and I have been donating to Child’s Play since it started, even when we had very little to give. Our son was hospitalized for ten days after he was born, and we spent a good deal of time at the PICU at UNC Hospitals. Our son went home, but many children never get to. The experience was sobering for us, but also gave us the desire to give something back. I’m thrilled that such a powerhouse as the PA duo are behind such a fantastic charity.
There are lots of other ways to be thankful—for yourself and for others—this season: volunteer at a shelter, cook a meal for your neighbor, or just get rid of stuff you don’t need and bring it to the Goodwill. Whatever you do, keep it thankful. Aside from traffic jams, long lines, and rain checks, there’s a whole lot in this world to be thankful for that can’t fit into a shopping bag.