Today is the Day After Thanksgiving. More commonly known as Black Friday. It’s the biggest shopping day of the year! People are out in droves trying to get that perfect deal.
More and more I’m starting to hate Black Friday.
Our society has become obsessed with profit. The holiday shopping season has become increasingly more and more about how much money you can make. My husband works in retail and I’ve been appalled as every year his hours increase more and more over thanksgiving week. This year his black Friday hours started at 6pm yesterday, and he won’t be home till after 1pm today. He’ll log a total of 19 hours straight to comply with his company’s need to open first and get the most customers in the door. He’ll miss out on a lazy Thanksgiving evening filled with pie and family. We have to plan dinner early so that he can get any celebration in at all!
Thanksgiving, a day that should be reserved for family, is now in some retail circles being called “Grey Thursday.” Just another mark in the great “shopping season.”
I’m all for a few things being open on Thanksgiving. Things like a few Restaurants, for those people who don’t have a place to go for dinner. And Gas Stations, so we can all get to the place we need to go. And Grocery Stores, so we can all get that last ingredient we forgot. Maybe even a partial day for Coffee shops, so we can grab a cup on the way to Grandma’s, or wherever the feast is being hosted. And hospitals, because emergencies and sickness don’t take holidays. But beyond those few categories I’m very passionate that everything else should be closed. Especially Retail. Because Thanksgiving is about Family! Not Profit. I’m thankful for those people who sacrifice to work the holiday. But I’m very upset with the businessmen who decided that the bottom line was more important than family.
I’m going to be so very glad when my husband finds a new job.
I don’t actually mind the idea of Black Friday. I don’t mind the crazy shopping season where everyone is out and looking for that perfect gift to give their loved ones. I might actually go out and do some shopping myself later in the afternoon. But I do mind the focus shift that has become more and more drastic. The one that forgets what the holidays are truly about.
The Black Friday frenzy has become in some ways a microcosm of this shift of focus. In it everything about this shift becomes magnified. The Deal becomes more important than the heart of giving. People fight over children’s toys when all a child needs is your heart. Buying for self becomes more important than giving to others. People camp out all week in front of Best Buys everywhere so that they can get a discount on a TV instead of spending precious time with their family. Could we be any more materialistic?
Certainly not everyone joins into this insanity. Not even everyone out on Friday is materialistic enough to fight over a purchase. Still, it’s a perfect example of how easily we can forget what this season is really all about!
I love the days after Thanksgiving. Including Black Friday. It’s the opening of my favorite Season and I love to open it just like any present! I pull down the Christmas trappings, turn on the Christmas Carols, and Stress out over all the things I need to do before the 25th. It’s the Best Time of the Year!
But even I, in the busyness of decorating, baking, and looking for that perfect gift, can miss the point.
The most Perfect Gift of all!
A Babe in a manger destined to bring Salvation to a lost world.
So I’m going to challenge you my friend, to slow down and remember. Reflect. Take a moment and take a breath.
On the next four Sundays I’m going to be posting some short devotionals specifically for the Advent Season.
What is the Advent Season? “Advent” means “arrival” or “coming” in Latin. It is a traditional season counting down to Christmas, counting down to the day we celebrate the birth of Christ. The traditions of Advent are varied. You’ve probably seen the 25 day countdown Advent Calendars. Some use either four or five candles to count the days of various colors. (Traditionally there are three purple, one pink, and sometimes one white, but my family always used four red and one white.) Some put these candles into wreaths.
I love Advent. Growing up my Dad would read a bit from a devotional with different scriptures. He used the same one every year until I was a teen, till those scriptures wrote themselves into my heart. It was a moment of reflection, devotion, and remembrance. To me, you can’t have Christmas without it, because then it wouldn’t BE Christmas, it would simply be a celebration of the Solstice. And though there is nothing wrong with celebrating the seasons, celebrating Christ is a good deal more precious to my heart.
I highly encourage you to start your own Advent tradition. Because we all need to slow down during the holidays and remember what we are celebrating.
I look forward to sharing a part of my Advent tradition with you this year.
~Joy Aletheia Stevens