Today is Black Friday. Why is it called that? Because the day after thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday shopping season, so black Friday indicates the day that retailers begin to turn a profit and are in “the black.” It’s a wonderful thing, especially in a poor economic climate. Of course we want merchants to do well. We all benefit from a thriving economy.
The “black Friday” concept goes sour when it gets elevated to a high holy day status. Sorry mom and dad. I know Thanksgiving only happens once a year but we can’t stay for pies and cider tonight. We need to pitch a tent at Walmart so we can be the closest to the doors when they open at 10pm. After all, little Jimmy is four years old now and he needs his X-box.
Our bellies haven’t even digested the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce before we are swiping our debit cards at Kohls. When did we decide to put shopping for material goods ahead of the one holiday that really promotes family togetherness, gratitude, warmth and love?
Unfortunately, Americans are thought of as being fat, stuffed and stupid and our behavior on black Friday doesn’t do much to dispel that stigma. Do we really need to camp out in front of department stores and run over slow moving senior citizens in scarves and canes just to get a parking space? Is it that imperative to wait outside Best Buy for 6 hours to get a 42” TV for $199 just so we can watch dancing with the stars in higher definition?
What happened to spending quality time talking to our loved ones; discovering the hidden details of how grandpa and grandma met, or what little Susie learned in school this week about the first Thanksgiving? Yes I guess I sound a bit “Little House on the Prairie-ish,”but there is something to sitting by the fireplace, drinking hot cocoa, loving God and family that is beautiful. But it is in grave danger of being lost; being tossed carelessly into history as unchecked materialism and consumerism take over as the American God.
A little dramatic? Maybe. But the Roman Empire didn’t lose its soul overnight. It happened gradually as instant gratification, modern conveniences and personal pleasures took the place of practicality, respect for one another, and decent family life.
Let’s not reduce the wholesome holiday of Thanksgiving to Black Friday Eve. Americans are not fat, stuffed and stupid. We are innovative, compassionate and intelligent. This is the greatest country in the world. I am very thankful to call it home.
(This blog was written by my wife.)