Black Friday (or Thursday if you are Walmart)

Christmas season starts even before the Halloween leftovers have been marked 50% off. It doesn’t end until we have quietly returned all those unique items that we don’t really want and stocked up on the clearance items.

Guess what happens right in the middle – Black Friday and the new shopping holiday….Gray Thursday. It is a time where mentally questionable individuals pass on long-weekend snooze time and plan to spend the early morning hours fighting (or sharing the feelings of Thanksgiving together) for the few items that are available at the door buster prices!

I’ve read articles that talk about boycotting the Black Friday gluttony and focusing on our spiritual growth. It makes sense….a spiritually oriented response to the commercialization of the Christmas season. I am all for spiritual growth, and the suggestions the blog makes for that are good ones, but I take issue with the automatic assumption that the commercialization of Christmas is a bad thing.

What do we even mean by “commercialization” anyway? That retailers use it as an excuse to run more sales and get more people into stores? Look at it this way: it’s the Fourth of July sales. Let’s say suddenly everybody descended on the mall and started buying the place out, and the local TV station sent a reporter to find out what what going on.

Let’s say that the reporter interviewed a bunch of people, asking, “Why are you here buying all this stuff?” And the people all responded, “I’m buying it to give away! To family and friends and co-workers! I’m even giving some stuff to people I don’t even know–a name I drew out of a hat at a party… an underprivileged child I heard about, whose day will be brightened by just getting a little gift.”

We’d watch this news report on TV and, wiping a little tear from our collective eye, we’d say,  “What a beautiful example of love and generosity! This should happen all the time!”

When it really does happen around Christmas time, we say, “we’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas!”

When you see all the news stories about all the people lined up at the stores buying stuff for Christmas, remember, those people are buying stuff to give away to others. And whether you think the stuff they’re buying is worth having or not, they’re buying it as a symbol of love for the gift’s recipient. It’s true that sometimes gifts are bought and given with other motivations–pride, as a demonstration of the giver’s wealth or taste; or peer pressure. But if you think that accounts for the bulk of gift giving at Christmas, I’d say you have an unreasonably low opinion of your fellow man.

So I say to everyone on this Black Friday and for the rest of the Christmas shopping season, go forth, buy stuff, and give it all away. That’s what I will be doing with my wife. See you at the stores….just get in line behind me!!

Be Strong.  Shop Like Men!

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