Six more weeks until the end of this bizarre decade of a year, but this week is Thanksgiving and Black Friday, which will look very different for most Americans this year. Since you shouldn't be having big family feasts — and all the stores will be closed — Thanksgiving can focus a little less on getting stuffed and a little more on reflection and giving.
It can seem difficult to be grateful when we're still in the midst of a global pandemic, millions are facing layoffs — or worse, grieving a lost friend or family member — and even the nightmare of the 2020 election refuses to end, despite there being no honorable path to a Trump victory. (Not that honor would matter to this administration.) But reminding ourselves what we have, and what we have to look forward to, can help raise our spirits.
It doesn't even have to be big things: one of the things I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving is being able to go pick fresh strawberries this morning. I'm also grateful I got to pick fresh strawberries with my mom last weekend, and then we turned it into strawberry jam (that I stirred the whole time). I'm grateful we also made kolaches and beignets, things I normally can't really make when it's just me all by myself.
I'm grateful to still have a job when so many around me do not, and I'm grateful that this job allows me to use my fanatical obsession with things like wireless charging profiles, phone cases, and Chromebooks to help people save money and make better decisions for (and with) their tech.
And speaking of tech, another thing to do this Thanksgiving is going to sound out of season, but hear me out: go through your stuff and perform a bit of spring cleaning. Figure out what clothes don't fit, what old tech is just cluttering up your junk drawer, and what needs to be replaced. Donate these old items — yes, even phones can be donated to some charities — and make room in your home for whatever comes next. This is especially a great time to be donating winter clothes that no longer fit, as this is going to be a very hard winter for millions of families facing economic hardship on top of increased exposure to the pandemic.
You can also put the "giving" back in this manufactured holiday by donating to your local food bank — food, money, or time — or giving to COVID relief funds either in your local area or impacting industries that you care about, like Broadway or the music industry. It feels good to do good, and there's never been more good to be done than right now.
If nothing else, you might take Thanksgiving to turn off your phones and spend a little time away from the doomscrolling and the constant distractions. I've been going and walking a few miles when I get the opportunity, as it gets me some much-needed exercise and it's hard to read your phone and walk at the same time. It forces me to keep the phone in my holster and my focus in the present moment, and it's been nice. If the weather doesn't absolutely suck in your part of the world right now, go take an hour for a stroll, doesn't matter how fast or how far. You'll feel better afterward.
I'm not going to get much time for long walks next weekend with Black Friday and Cyber Monday being almost entirely online this year, and I'm 100% okay with this pandemic-caused change. Midnight doorbusters and in-store-only promotions sucked and I'm glad they're mostly replaced with daily/lightning deals and online orders, so that not only does everyone get a shot at the same deals, but we don't have to endure any stampeding or overnight camping just to get that PS5 or big-screen TV.
Our team has already been hard at work rounding up the best early Black Friday deals, as well as category roundups for everything from phones to TVs to even DNA kits. And of course, we've got plenty of Chromebook deals that I and others will be updating throughout the week as we hunt for fewer deals after this year's Chromebook shortage.
On a more personal note, my goal this Black Friday is to try and do as much of my Christmas shopping as I can and to buy up more of my favorite lounge pants, because they're comfy and they fit so nicely.
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Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.